Qantas’ third Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is to be named after one of Australia’s cutest native animals, the quokka.

The name was among the most popular suggestions in a national Australian poll of more than 60,000 entries to name the airline’s fleet of eight Dreamliners.

Unique to Australia and largely found on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth, quokkas are described as the happiest animal on Earth and are even known to enjoy a selfie with tourists.

Alison Webster, CEO for Qantas International, said: “Our direct flights between Europe and Australia start in March, so naming our third Dreamliner after a native animal unique to Western Australia seems very fitting. There may be some head scratching moments when people see the name of this aircraft at airports around the world, but a quick internet search will make them immediate quokka converts, and might even encourage them to take a trip.”

West Australian tourism minister, Paul Papalia, added: “The Quokka, known as the world’s happiest animal, is truly unique to Western Australia. Our pristine Rottnest Island, just a 30-minute ferry ride from Perth, is the only place on the planet where people can mingle with the beloved marsupial and now the name fittingly sits on the side of a Qantas Dreamliner bringing tourists to our great State. We can’t wait to welcome new visitors to Perth, and I know the quokkas will be ready to star in any holiday snaps.”

Quokka, which has the official registration of VH-ZNC, will operate the new Perth to London route launching March 25. It will be joined by a Dreamliner called Skippy later this year.

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