Tuesday, 31 May 2011

2000 colours

Continental Airlines livery (Continental Airlines)
Airline: Continental
Livery: The millenium

For its celebration of the millenium, Continental Airlines commissioned the American artist Peter Max to create a new livery for one of its planes. Max was largely given a free rein, having been told simply to make the aeroplane look as colourful as possible. This he did: the result could be said to resemble an explosion in a paint factory.
Sixteen people used paint guns to apply 320 gallons of paint to the plane, which also featured an image of the Statue of Liberty and "NYC2000" in star-spangled letters. The aircraft's maiden flight - from the Boeing plant to New York - took place on 18 November 1999; the then-mayor, Rudy Giuliani, inaugurated the aircraft.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

On the nose

Lufthansa livery (Lufthansa)
Airline: Lufthansa
Theme: World Cup

Lufthansa's "football nose" appeared on more than 30 planes in 2006, to celebrate the World Cup. The first trip made by the first football-themed plane involved flying the Bayern Munich football team to Japan to take part in a friendly game.
Lufthansa was later accused of jumping on the World Cup bandwagon: Emirates was in fact the official sponsor of the tournament. However, in 2006 Lufthansa won the world medal for marketing effectiveness at New York Festivals International Advertising Awards for its football-nosed planes, which admittedly makes us suspect the competition wasn't exactly fierce that year.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Flying high

Swiss Air livery (Swiss Air)
Airline: Swiss Air
Theme: San Francisco

In 2010, Swiss Air unveiled a San Francisco-themed aeroplane to celebrate the launch of its non-stop flights from Zurich to the US city. The livery played heavily on San Fran's hippy, countercultural associations: the flower power design included peace symbols, a hand strumming a guitar and the word "love" in pink.
Eight people took three days to paint the 60-metre aircraft but, unlike some of the themes above, this is an example of an aeroplane where the motif stopped at the paint job. Stoned cabin crew and free love in the aisles might have been taking a tribute to the famously permissive city too far.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sleep colourfully

Germanwings livery (Germanwings)
Airline: Germanwings (take two)

Theme: Park Inn partnership

Germanwings emblazoned the words "Sleep well" on an aeroplane painted to mark the airline's collaboration with the Park Inn budget hotel chain, although the checkered design seems bright enough to keep you awake from 30,000ft away.
Whatever you think of its suitability, the livery is certainly not one you'd forget in a hurry. The design became an instant hit with plane spotters, partly because anyone lucky enough to spot the plane could win a free hotel stay and flight simply by snapping a picture of the aircraft and emailing it to Park Inn. Whether a pastime such as plane spotting should be encouraged in such a way is a debate we'll leave for another day.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

There's a bear on there

Germanwings livery (Germanwings)
Airline: Germanwings
Theme: The Berlin bear

Airlines appear to like animal themes when it comes to adorning their aircraft. Southwest Airlines' Illinois plane bore the suitably lofty image of an eagle; another depicted a graceful whale. Yet some commentators were mystified when the airline Germanwings painted a plane to look like a brown bear. They were finally put out of their misery with the information that the animal is the symbol of the German capital, Berlin.
The airbus A319-112 proved a hit with plane spotters, and a miniature die-cast toy was later produced.

Friday, 20 May 2011

Where's Arnie?

Austrian Airlines livery (Austrian Airlines)
Airline: Austrian Airlines
Theme: The millennium

Some of the greatest classical music was composed in Austria so it's not surprising the country's airline relies heavily on composers when it comes to decorating its planes. In 2006, to mark Mozart Memorial Year (what, you mean you hadn't heart of it?) the airline added an image of the composer to the doors of all of its 19 airbuses.
For the millennium, Austrian Airlines pulled out all the stops with a livery including the faces of famous Austrians such as Sigmund Freud, Franz Schubert and - again - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. All we want to know is, where on earth is Arnie?

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Where eagles dare

Southwest liveries (Southwest Airlines)
Airline: Southwest
Theme: Illinois's bald eagle

When the US carrier Southwest Airlines decided to honour the state of Illinois with a specially designed aeroplane livery, some argued that a picture of Abraham Lincoln (the former president, who grew up in the state) might have been most appropriate. The airline, however, eventually opted for the more streamlined, so to speak, theme of a bald eagle to represent the so-called Prairie State. The design required some 400 litres of paint, and took 26 people six days to paint.
Southwest's Florida One aeroplane (the lower of the images above), stands out for its cheery use of colour. The design, the airline's seventh tied to a US state and based on Florida's state seal, took 32 people eight days to paint, using 16 different colours. Other Southwest aeroplane liveries have included Slam Dunk 1, a tribute to the airline's NBA partnership, and Triple Crown One, dedicated to the airline's baggage handlers. (They would probably have preferred a bonus, but there you go.)

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Strange characters

Pokemon livery (Ana Airways)
Airline: ANA Airways (again)
Theme: Pokemon

Another airline evidently convinced of the power of garish liveries on its planes, ANA's first Pokemon-themed craft (top image, above) featured the curiously named characters from the 90s Japanese video game Clefairy, Togepi, Mew, Mewtwo, Snorlax and Pikachu. As with the carrier's panda-themed craft (see previous slide), the motif didn't stop at the paint job - flight staff wore Pokemon-themed costumes, and head rests and meal boxes were also stamped with the cartoon theme.
Further Pokemon jets were introduced after the original liveried plane proved more popular than predicted and ticket sales soared. No prizes for guessing what the inflight movie was in each case.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Diplomatic pandas

Panda livery (PA)
Airline: ANA All Nippon Airways

To celebrate 20 years of flights between Japan and China, as well as to mark the 35th anniversary of resumed diplomatic relations between the countries, ANA Airlines came up with the idea of a commemorative panda livery. On board the plane, passengers risk panda overload in the form of headrests, pillows, cups, napkins and biscuits featuring the animal theme.
Passengers' luggage was even transported from the airport terminal to the aeroplane in a panda-emblazoned lorry. No word on whether the panda motif extended to the sick bags, but we hope so.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Cartoon Cats

Hello Kitty livery (Sanrio)
Airline: Eva Air
Theme: Hello Kitty

The Taiwanese airline Eva Air was the proud owner of two Hello Kitty-themed airbuses. The cartoon theme didn't just stop at the paint job, however; fans of the incredibly popular Japanese cartoon character who flew on the planes also enjoyed Hello Kitty luggage tags and boarding passes and, once on board, Hello Kitty decor complementing cartoon-themed napkins, meal boxes and cutlery.
If nothing else the all-encompassing motif may have been an effective terrorism deterrent. We can't quite picture a would-be hijacker seizing control of the plane armed with a pink, plastic Hello Kitty knife.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Elton John on your fuselage?

Elton John on your fuselage? We're not sure whether these outrageous aeroplane 'liveries' would prevent mid-air collisions or cause them. Either way, they're unforgettable

Airline: Air Tran
Theme: Elton John

Whether a huge depiction of Elton John's smiling mug is a particularly appealing way to entice passengers to your airline is open to debate, but it's nonetheless what the American low-cost carrier Air Tran chose to decorate its Boeing 717.
The livery, created to celebrate Air Tran becoming the first airline to install XM satellite radio on its planes, appeared on 30 aircraft and became so popular with plane spotters that Air Tran introduced an ETS (Elton Tracking System) that allowed fans to follow the pop star-themed craft around the world.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

'The Airline to Middle Earth'

Lord of the Rings livery (Air New Zealand)
Airline: Air New Zealand

Theme: The Lord of the Rings

Air New Zealand created two Lord of the Rings liveries for its aircraft - one featuring Frodo and another with Liv Tyler and Viggo Mortensen, as Arwen the elven princess and Aragorn respectively. The striking paint jobs were part of a campaign called The Airline to Middle Earth, the blockbuster trilogy based on the Tolkein fantasy books having been filmed in New Zealand.
The two planes have flashed their colourful bodies around the world; Elijah Wood, the actor who played Frodo, flew into New Zealand for the premiere of The Return of the King, on the Frodo-themed aircraft. One presumes the celebrated hobbit impersonator didn't complain about the leg room.