Sky scenes: five new/old airline liveries

 Like decorative or commemorative t-shirts, airplane paint jobs, or liveries, serve as giant ads to promote airline brands or mark special occasions. Here are some new and unique designs recently spotted in the skies.

Qantas goes dotty

Courtesy Qantas

 The newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for Sydney, Australia-based Qantas came out of the factory covered in a unique design based on the “Yam Dreaming” painting by the late indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

The bold red and white livery features close to 5000 dots and is only the second time in the airline’s history that the iconic flying kangaroo always seen on the aircraft tail has been changed to become part of a special painted design.

Lufthansa rebrands for the digital age


Courtesy Lufthansa

New aircraft livery – the first in almost thirty years – is the major piece of a larger brand update German flag carrier Lufthansa revealed on February 7.

“Against the backdrop of digitalization and changing customer requirements, Lufthansa recognized that the company needed to modernize the aircraft appearance in order to remain up to date,” the airline said a statement.

Displayed first on a Boeing 747-8 and an Airbus A321, the new paint scheme no longer features any of Lufthansa’s well-recognized yellow color but focuses instead on a simpler blue-and-white design that uses a darker shade of the blue specifically designed for carrier. The new livery does keep the carrier’s signature crane on the tail, but the crane is now encircled with a thinner ring that the airline says makes the crane look more elegant and gives it more space.

United Airlines looks forward with a look back

Courtesy United Airlines

United Airlines retired it last Boeing 747 passenger aircraft in November 2017 and gave the iconic humped jumbo jet known at the “Queen of the Skies” a special send-off with a ‘retro’ flight re-enacting the airline’s first 747 commercial flight from San Francisco to Honolulu in July 23, 1970. The flight included Mai Tais and other food and drinks featured on the 1970’s era in-flight menu and a special livery featuring the “Friend Ship” design used on the jet’s first flight.

KLM says farewell to its Fokkers

Courtesy KLM

Airlines replace and retire aircraft all the time, but in October 2017, when Dutch carrier KLM retired the last Fokker aircraft in its Cityhopper fleet, the good-bye was especially bittersweet. That’s because Fokker is the Dutch aircraft manufacturer that made the planes KLM first flew when the airline was formed 97 years ago, and the airline has always had Fokkers in its fleet.

To honor the long partnership, in June 2017 KLM applied a special livery featuring the portrait of aviation pioneer and airplane manufacturer Anthony Fokker to a Fokker 70 aircraft that retired on October 28.

Air France launches jaunty Joon


Courtesy Air France

To battle the ultra-low-cost carriers that have been nibbling away at its market, in December 2017 Paris-based Air France introduced a new airline called Joon that the carrier says is aimed at serving young and always-connected “millennials whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.”

By summer 2018 Joon will be flying from Paris to 13 short and long-haul destinations and in addition to YouJoon, an inflight streaming system that passengers (of any age) can access on their smartphones, laptops or tablets, Joon’s hopes to signal it hipness with a visual identity that has at its core an electric blue color featured in crew uniforms and in the airline’s livery.

(My story about recent liveries spotted in the skies first appeared on CNBC in a slightly different format).

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