For decades American Airlines has flown unpainted, polished aluminum airplanes. But that may soon change. American’s livery has been in use since 1967, outlasting mergers, failures and shifting tastes across the industry. A new exterior also may mean dropping the signature bare-metal skin that dates to the era of propeller-driven airliners, which the airline has called a fuel-saver because an unpainted plane weighs less.
Months ago, American Chief Executive Tom Horton hinted at a meeting of corporate travel managers that a new logo and new paint scheme for jets are coming, likely as the company emerges from bankruptcy-court reorganization and tries to set a new course. Given the events of the past month, emerging with a new image is as important as ever.
“This is going to be a new airline,’’ Mr. Horton said at the Global Business Travel Association convention in Boston. He was referring to American’s plans to emerge from bankruptcy as an independent carrier, not to an ongoing exploration and evaluation of a possible merger with US Airways or some other airline. “ We're working on modernization of the American Airlines brand and we'll unveil something in the future. We're also thinking about the look of our airplanes,’’ Mr. Horton said. “Stay tuned on that.’’
Besides image and fuel savings, there’s a structural reason American is going to have to start painting its planes. The Boeing 787s American has on order don’t have aluminum skins, but are constructed with composite materials that are essentially super-strong plastics that must be painted. Large portions of the new Airbus planes American has ordered are also fabricated with composite materials.
Change is rarely easy and almost never pleases everyone. But it's almost a certainty that American Airlines will emerge from bankruptcy looking much different than it does today. Hopefully the change will be more than skin deep.
A quick google search produced a handful of creative ideas for what the "new" American may look like. In no particular order. Take a look and see what you think.
Update: Now that the design...two years in the making...is out of the bag, here are a couple of options that might have gone over better. The bottom is my personal favorite as I am fond of the new logo, but hate the tail design.
Click the link below to see American's first Boeing 777-300 being painted..