At 90 years old, the airport is now in Eardley Kinchella’s blood.

He first took up residence at Mascot in 1966, landing a job with what was then Trans-Australia Airlines (later Australian Airlines) one month after arriving in Sydney with his wife and daughters.

For more than 50 years – through rebrands, mergers, privatisation, retirement, and everything else the aviation business has thrown at him – he was there, finally hanging up his boots this year.

It all began because, after working in shipping before he moved from India to Australia, aviation felt like a natural fit.

“With ships, you had to figure out how to balance them and how to make them float, so when I came to Australia, I thought I could apply my skills to aircraft,” Eardley explained.

Despite his mechanical training, Eardley soon found himself working in customer-facing roles.

“I did a lot of checking people in and ticket writing because, of course, there were no computers at that time,” he said.

Though he briefly contemplated retirement when Qantas bought Australian Airlines in the early 1990s, Eardley said he was enjoying his work so much that he decided to stay on.

“I had a wonderful time at Qantas,” he said. “People there were very kind to me.”

When retirement eventually came calling in 2006, Qantas sent Eardley off in style.

“On my last day there was an announcement at the desk…they stopped check-in and had everyone clapping for me,” he said.

But the retirement was short-lived. Eardley received a call a few weeks later from Sydney Airport, who asked if he would be interested in coming in to volunteer.

He couldn’t resist.

“As a volunteer you do everything; you help people who are lost, people who need advice, people who are nervous flyers and need some calming down. The pleasure for me comes in giving, it’s something I enjoy,” he said.

With that in mind, Eardley doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon.

“I’m absolutely fit – I go dancing, I go walking. I haven’t stopped! Most of all I’m still enjoying the job very much so I don’t want to give it up! I had to pass a medical exam in order to continue volunteering past the age of 90 but I passed it with flying colours,” he said.

So what keeps him coming back?

Beyond the fun that comes with meeting people from all walks of life, Eardley said he enjoys the friendship and sense of camaraderie that comes with being at work.

“When we finish our volunteer shift we don’t go home, we go across the road for a coffee and a chat. It’s such a great atmosphere with talented people,” he said.

It’s this sense of fulfilment and friendship that Eardley hopes other Qantas Super members find both at work and in life.

“Don’t think of it as coming to work. Think of it as, you’re coming in to work to enjoy yourself, and you’re learning something and creating something good. It’s very important that you feel that way,” he said.

“You need to get something out of your work and feel proud of what you do. That’s the main thing.”

We're here to help

If you need help with making a decision about your super, you can get simple advice over the phone or face to face. It’s included as a part of your membership so there’s no extra cost.