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Colour me painted (A-3)


In general, airlines have a very defined corporate image, and colours.

There are some exemptions, for example Frontier in the United States. They paint a different animal in each tail.

Or Norwegian in Norway, they paint a different famous character.

But in general, they are very uniform and defined images.

Nonetheless, at times there are Airplanes that are painted with special colours for different reasons.

Those Airplanes are usually few. And from those, there isn’t always an associated campaign through which the public can know why that Airplane is painted in that way.

Many times the campaign isn’t even justified because it’s not a commercial matter.

Those of us inside this little world are very aware of their existence, but for the public seeing them may mean surprise, and at times, even confusion.

I remember being in Rionegro’s Airport once, and listening to the following dialogue:

-“She comes in Avianca”.
-“Ah, but that isn’t Avianca, it’s some Star Alliance”.
-“Yeah right? S-TAR-A-LLI-AN-CE. That’s so weird, she’s not coming there”.

Of course, it was Avianca, and the person was coming there. It’s just that it was one of the Airplanes painted with Star Alliance colours, the alliance Avianca belongs to.

Making of the archive of photos I’ve taken, it occurred to me to make this article to talk a little bit about the matter, and show you some examples that I’ve photographed of this practice.

So, let’s start with a simple list of reasons why an Airplane can have different colours than the rest of the fleet in a given moment.

This list isn’t exhaustive, I just decided to divide it this way arbitrarily. Even so, I think it’s fit for what I want to do with this article. So let’s do it.

ADVERTISING

Some airlines offer their Airplanes as flying billboards. This kind of agreement can happen in an Airplane that changes its colours totally.

Or it can happen with the installation of a sticker showing the product or service somewhere in the Airplane, but keeping the normal colours otherwise.

It can also happen because of specific events, such as the now traditional Coca-Cola Airplane with the FIFA World Cup trophy.

BY ASSOCIATION WITH SOME INSTITUTION, EVENT, OR SPORTS TEAM

Many times Airplanes have been painted with subjects alluding to some institution, or some sports team.

Like with the advertising, some times it’s about a sticker (big or small), and some times the whole Airplane changes its identity.

We could set as examples of this the Avianca Airbus A319 that had a sticker of the Colombian national football team, or the JetBlue A320 totally painted green with the Boston Celtics’ colours, a NBA team in the United States.

IN COMMEMORATION OF ANNIVERSARIES, OWN CAMPAIGNS, CELEBRATIONS, OR REMEMBERING PAST TIMES

These are some of my favourites.

The ones commemorating anniversaries are just that, the company just turned a determined number of years, and they painted some Airplane, or put some sticker to it.

The ones remembering past times are some of the ones I like the most. These are Airplanes they paint with colours the airline had many years ago, before the current corporate image. They’re called “retro-jets”.

There is a variation of this, it’s when the current airline is the result of the buy-out or merger with others.

Now and then they paint some Airplane with the colours of the airline that doesn’t exist anymore.

Also, when the airline is the first one to fly some type of Airplane, or any similar reason, they usually paint Airplanes with subjects alluding to that.

Some times, the airline makes a campaign that belongs to them only, and they paint the Airplane accordingly.

FOR OPERATIONAL REASONS

It happens at times that an airline acquires some second-hand Airplane that used to fly for another before.

Painting an Airplane is a time-consuming process and it’s not cheap, and an Airplane that isn’t flying is lost revenue.

So when an Airplane reaches in those conditions and is ready to fly, sometimes Airlines prefer to put it to fly without painting it, leaving a mix between the former airline’s colours, and the titles of the current.

It also happens when an airline is going to use an Airplane that belongs to another one for a short period, knowing beforehand it’s going to be like that.

In those cases, it can’t be financially justified to paint the whole Airplane, and in general they only change the titles and that’s it, since the Airplane will return to its original owner in short time.

That would mean a double painting job, with the costs it has in time and money, and since the operation is going to be for short time, they just leave it as it came, and only change the titles.

Those Airplanes are usually called “hybrids”, and some are really striking.

Another variation of this is leaving the Airplane only with the titles, and the rest without painting. It’s usually made when the Airplane is going to be returned to its owner, or was sold, or some other reason that may warrant it.

BELONGING TO A GLOBAL ALLIANCE

Some airlines belong to global alliances such as Star Alliance, OneWorld or SkyTeam.

Usually when belonging to any of those alliances, some Airplanes in the fleet are painted with colours alluding to the alliance.

BEING AN AIRPLANE IN EXHIBITION BY THE COMPANY THAT MAKES IT

Some Airplane makers such as Airbus, Boeing or Bombardier go to air fairs, events, and conventions worldwide such as Farnborough in the United Kingdom, or FIDAE in Chile, among others, to showcase their Airplanes’ capabilities.

Often, they find buyers there or close deals that were already being prepared, when they take their Airplanes to those events usually they paint them with the colours of the maker, that almost never are seen again in operation (even though there are some very interesting Boeing colour schemes flying with China Airlines).


After that little explanation, I want to show you some examples that I’ve been able to photograph.

Of course, this list is limited to what I’ve photographed (and some external links to photos of other people), but these practices exists since before I was born, and in many more places that I’ve been able to visit. That is, this is but a small sample.

The list will go by airline name in alphabetical order, and I will include some details of the pictures, and the reason of the colours if I know it.

I’ve divided the whole article in several lists so it doesn’t become so heavy. This is list A-3. In the menu in the beginning, or in the end, you will be able to browse toward the others.

I hope you like it.


Aires (Colombia)

Aires had the following colours as the normal ones when I took the photos:

4C
Aires normal colours after the blue ones (I don't remember when they changed exactly) until the ones circa 2009.

Ramírez.

4C
Aires normal colours from about 2009, until they were bought by LAN.

Ramírez.

Up next, the airline’s Airplanes with special colours I’ve photographed:


1.
Airplane:
Boeing 737-700 | Registration: HK-4694
Place in which I photographed it: Medellin-Rionegro MDE | Date: August 2010

DSC_5669.jpg

The Boeing 737-700 Aires operated by then came from different airlines.

Most were painted in the Aires colours when they arrived, but a pair were not painted and only had titles applied. They were hybrids then.

One of those was the HK-4694, formerly flying for an airline in the United Kingdom called Flyglobespan. You can see a photo of the Airplane in that airline by clicking here.


2.
Airplane:
Bombardier Dash 8-Q200 | Registration: HK-4432X
Place in which I photographed it: Medellin-Olaya Herrera EOH | Date: July 2006

124_6210.jpg

Aires began to fly Dash 8, that formerly had flown with US Airways Express. As you can see, they only changed the titles, being then another hybrid in its history.

They called it “La Negra” (“The black girl”). You can see it with its former operator by clicking here.


3.
Airplane:
Bombarbier Dash 8-Q400 | Registration: HK-4724
Place in which I photographed it: Medellin-Rionegro MDE | Date: September 2011

DSC_3119.jpg

When Aires had an important expansion, and brought different Airplanes, they made several marketing campaigns.

One of those, if I’m not mistaken, was a contest for an Airplane to be painted with the design of some person of the public.

DSC_3169.jpg

The contest was won by someone called Maria José Numa, and that’s why the Airplane that was left with those colours is called (a delicious Q400) was called “Majo Numa”.


4.
Airplane:
Bombarbier Dash 8-Q200 | Registration: HK-4554X
Place in which I photographed it: Medellin-Olaya Herrera EOH | Date: March 2008

IMG_5726.jpg

Aires flew this Dash-8 with the titles only, but without the rest of official colours of the moment. I’ve no idea why, but there you have it.


AirTran Airways (United States)

AirTran Airways had the following colours as the normal ones when I took the photos:

FL
AirTran Airways normal colours.

Ramírez.

Up next, the airline’s Airplanes with special colours I’ve photographed:


1.
Airplane:
Boeing 717-200 | Registration: N949AT
Place in which I photographed it: Atlanta ATL | Date: April 2012

DSC_5327.jpg

This Boeing 717-200 was painted with the colours of the Orlando Magic basketball team.

I couldn’t take a proper side photo, since I was just about to board it to fly from Atlanta to New York, but you can click here to see the full colours.


2.
Airplane:
Boeing 717-200 | Registration: N936AT
Place in which I photographed it: Washington-Reagan DCA | Date: April 2010

DSC_0073-2.jpg

This Boeing 717-200 was painted with the colours of the Indianapolis Colts American football team.

I don’t have a proper side shot of this one, but you can click here to see the full colours.


American Airlines (United States)

American Airlines had the following colours as the normal ones when I took the photos:

AA
American Airlines normal colours until 2013.

Ramírez.

AA
American Airlines normal colours from 2013. The current ones at the time of writing this.

Ramírez.

Up next, the airline’s Airplanes with special colours I’ve photographed:


1.
Airplane:
Boeing 737-800 | Registration: N951AA
Place in which I photographed it: Medellin-Rionegro MDE | Date: October 2011

DSC_3639.jpg

They call this Airplane the “Astrojet” in American. It has the colours the airline had starting in 1964, so it would be a retro-jet.

DSC_3640.jpg

At the time of writing this, another Boeing 737-800 with a different registration has the colours, but it still exists.

American also had a Boeing 757-200 with those colours, precisely the Airplane that operated the first flight of the airline in the Miami – Medellin route in 2002. I saw it, but I don’t have a photo.

You can see it by clicking here.

DSC_3644.jpg

2.
Airplane:
Boeing 737-800 | Registration: N915NN
Place in which I photographed it: Fort Lauderdale FLL | Date: April 2018

DSC_5422.jpg

TWA was a very important airline in the United States for many years.

American Airlines bought it in 2001, and years later they painted this Boeing 737-800 with their colours.

By 2019 American has several Airplanes painted with the colours of airlines they bought, or that are now part of American because of the many mergers that have taken place in the recent years.


3.
Airplane:
Boeing 737-800 | Registration: N838NN
Place in which I photographed it: Mexico City MEX | Date: April 2015

DSC_2789.jpg

American Airlines belongs to OneWorld, and as a member, has this Boeing 737-800 painted with the colours of the alliance.


4.
Airplane:
Boeing 767-300 | Registration: N343AN
Place in which I photographed it: Miami MIA | Date: October 2015

DSC_8216.jpg

American Airlines belongs to OneWorld, and as a member, has this Boeing 767-300 painted with the colours of the alliance.


5.
Airplane:
Boeing 757-200 | Registration: N690AA
Place in which I photographed it: Miami MIA | Date: May 2012

DSC_6524.jpg

This Boeing 757-200 is called “Flagship Freedom”.

DSC_6526.jpg

It’s dedicated to the United States military, it says “In support of all who serve”.

I couldn’t taken a proper side shot, clicking here you can see a photo where all it’s better seen.


American Eagle (United States)

American Eagle had the following colours as the normal ones when I took the photos:

AA
American Eagle normal colours at that moment.

Ramírez.

Up next, the airline’s Airplanes with special colours I’ve photographed:


1.
Airplane:
Embraer 145 | Registration: N905JH
Place in which I photographed it: Miami MIA | Date: April 2012

DSC_4938.jpg

This ERJ-145 has a pink ribbon because of the fight against breast cancer, like several other airlines around the world.


ANA – All Nippon Airways (Japan)

ANA – All Nippon Airways had the following colours as the normal ones when I took the photos:

AA
ANA - All Nippon Airways normal colours.

Ramírez.

Up next, the airline’s Airplanes with special colours I’ve photographed:


1.
Airplane:
Boeing 747-400D | Registration: JA8956
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: May 2012

DSC_8422.jpg

Pokemon came out in 1996, and it quickly became a success worldwide.

ANA painted their first Airplane in 1998, and since then, they always had a Pokemon Airplane until 2016.

DSC_8423.jpg

I don’t know how was the commercial relation between the airline and Pokemon’s producers.

But the experience was not only the Airplane’s colours, but also in internal elements such as the cups where the beverages were served.

DSC_8629.jpg

Of all they had, I managed to take photos of two, and this was the first one. A Boeing 747-400D in Tokyo.


2.
Airplane:
Boeing 777-300 | Registration: JA754A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: September 2014

DSC_8536.jpg

This Boeing 777-300 was the second (and last) of the ANA Pokemon Airplanes that I could see.

DSC_8538.jpg

I think it’s the last one they had, it was painted like this until 2016. I don’t know if they will paint a new one.

DSC_8659.jpg

3.
Airplane:
Boeing 767-300 | Registration: JA602A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: May 2012

DSC_8934.jpg

This ANA retro-jet was called “Mohican Jet” (or “Mohawk Jet” as seen in other parts as well).

Those were the normal colours of ANA from 1969 to 1989.


4.
Airplane:
Boeing 787-8 | Registration: JA801A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: May 2012

DSC_8585.jpg

ANA was the first airline worldwide to fly the Boeing 787.

And JA801A was the first Boeing 787-8 they flew, and thus, the first 787 that flew with passengers commercially.

To commemorate this, they painted it like in the photo, with a delicious dark blue with stripes and huge sign that said 787. When I took that photo the Airplane had been flying just a few months.


5.
Airplane:
Boeing 787-8 | Registration: JA816A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: September 2014

DSC_8576.jpg

The first Boeing 787-8 that arrived had the commemorative colours you saw above.

Nonetheless, later arrivals also had their huge 787 sign, with normal colours in the rest of the Airplane.


6.
Airplane:
Boeing 767-300 | Registration: JA606A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: September 2014

DSC_8678.jpg

ANA painted this Boeing 767-300 in 2007 with these colours they called “Fly! Panda”.

They’re commemorative colours because of the 20 years of ANA flying to China, and the 35 years of friendly relations between Japan and China.


7.
Airplane:
Boeing 777-200 | Registration: JA712A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Haneda HND | Date: September 2014

DSC_8603.jpg

ANA is a member of Star Alliance, and for that reason, has some Airplanes painted with the colours of the alliance (like the rest of the members). In this particular case, a Boeing 777-200.


8.
Airplane:
Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 | Registration: JA858A
Place in which I photographed it: Osaka-Itami ITM | Date: May 2012

DSC_9551.jpg

ANA painted this Q400 green celebrating their aspirations and programs to become as much an “ECO Friendly” airline as possible.

The Airplane kept those colours until 2017.


9.
Airplane:
Boeing 737-700 | Registration: JA10AN
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Narita NRT | Date: May 2012

DSC_7731.jpg

ANA had a service called “ANA BusinessJet” that flew from Tokyo to cities such as Mumbai, Yangon y Guangzhou.

In the Boeing 737-700 Airplanes they used, seats were all either Business Class or Premium Economy, and there were no more than 45 seats for passengers altogether.

The service was discontinued, but while it operated, the division’s Airplanes were painted like this one.


10.
Airplane:
Boeing 767-300 | Registration: JA613A
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Narita NRT | Date: May 2012

DSC_7612.jpg

There was a tourism campaign in Japan called “Japan. Endless Discovery”.

ANA put the campaign’s sticker to this Boeing 767-300.


11.
Airplane:
 Airbus A320 | Registration: JA8384
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Narita NRT | Date: May 2012

DSC_8016.jpg

In February 2012, this Airbus A320 had a tail-strike in Sendai, and was taken offline from ANA operations.

The Airplane was repaired, and later it flew as a trainer for AirAsia Japan, still with ANA’s basic colours (except for the titles).


12.
Airplane:
Boeing 737-500 | Registration: JA303K
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Narita NRT | Date: September 2014

DSC_7865.jpg

This Boeing 737-500 has a dolphin painted in the engines. I’ve no idea why, but delicious.


ANA Cargo – All Nippon Airways Cargo (Japan)

ANA Cargo – All Nippon Airways Cargo had the following colours as the normal ones when I took the photos:

NH
ANA Cargo - All Nippon Airways Cargo normal colours.

Ramírez.

Up next, the airline’s Airplanes with special colours I’ve photographed:


1.
Airplane:
Boeing 767-300F | Registration: JA8970
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Narita NRT | Date: May 2012

DSC_6709.jpg

ANA invested in the logistics company OCS. On becoming partners, they decided to put OCS stickers in some of their cargo Airplanes, such as this Boeing 767-300.


2.
Airplane:
Boeing 767-300F | Registration: JA8356
Place in which I photographed it: Tokyo-Narita NRT | Date: September 2014

DSC_7474.jpg

ANA Cargo has (or had) an express courier service called All Express (Allex). This Boeing 767-300F has a sticker of the service.


GO BACK TO LIST A-2< | >CONTINUE TO LIST A-4


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