The airlines like paint up their planes in nifty specialty liveries a lot these days as they seek to break through the clutter and get their name across. Here are a couple of the most recent: US Airways, which used to be USAirways and before that was USAir and Allegheny before that, used to count Pittsburgh, the steel city in western Pennsylvania, as one of its major hubs. That was before the airline got bigger and the city got smaller. Not only is Pittsburgh not a hub anymore, but it’s barely in the airline’s system; when US Airways chief executive Doug Parker took questions from employees the other month, he told them that PIT, AKA PGH, was real low down the list for new service. Not likely, he said, because nobody goes there anymore.
Parker introduced an interesting theory of route planning with his suggestion that cities with passengers should get more flights than those without a traffic base, but after that interesting bout of rationality, one asks why then did Parker proudly roll out an Airbus painted in the colours of Pittsburgh’s professional football team, the Steelers? They don’t make steel there anymore, at least not much, US Airways doesn’t fly there any more, at least not much, so one does wonder. Ah, well, at least it wasn’t painted up for the city’s baseball team, the Pirates. Think of what the security people would have thought.
Then there’s Air Canada, which shined up a Lockheed L-10 and then painted it up in the colors, we mean colours, of the old Trans-Canada Airlines to mark Air Canada’s seventieth anniversary. It’s reminiscent of the Airbus A320 that Air Canada painted up a decade ago in TCA livery to mark its sixtieth. A predecessor, TCA had several of the Lockheeds and perhaps ironically made its first L-10 flight in September of 1937, about two months after legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart (and her friendly navigator Fred Noonan) and her plane disappeared. Some Air Canada volunteer pilots flew it around the western provinces the other day, where a few observant types noted that this is the very same model aircraft flown by Earhart when she and Noonan disappeared over the South Pacific. Interesting signal to send in an age of frightened flyers..
Then there are a few entirely new liveries. Well maybe not entirely new. At CSA, the Czech airline, they’ve come out with a neat red thingee that the airline says moves it away from the old Eastern European image (“rigid, dull, and lower quality,” says CSA). It also actually has the name of the airline, which is a good thing when 80% of your flyers don’t speak the language. Hey! Wait a moment! It looks just like Delta’s new multizillion-dollar widget, developed with that noted $750-an-hour consultancy, 3/Guys+Bowties, in order to get away from the image of rigid, dull, and of lower quality. (Or maybe was it discovered when Sid down the mailroom tripped over that new Adobe Acrobat shipment?) Maybe it’s a SkyTeam thing where they share creatives or a Delta ancillary revenues thing.