Skip to main content

Crazy, gaudy, clever airplane paint jobs

By Tamara Hinson and Simon Busch
updated 2:06 PM EDT, Fri September 27, 2013
Bears might fly -- a British Airways plane sporting a panda-themed livery took to the skies this week to mark the launch of a route from London to Chengdu, China. Honoring the Chinese belief in the lucky qualities of the number eight, the China-London leg will have the flight number BA88. But BA isn't the first to put a panda plane into the sky -- click through the gallery to see which airline beat them to it. Bears might fly -- a British Airways plane sporting a panda-themed livery took to the skies this week to mark the launch of a route from London to Chengdu, China. Honoring the Chinese belief in the lucky qualities of the number eight, the China-London leg will have the flight number BA88. But BA isn't the first to put a panda plane into the sky -- click through the gallery to see which airline beat them to it.
HIDE CAPTION
Panda plane, British Airways
Hobbit plane, Air New Zealand
Salmon-Thirty-Salmon, Alaska Airlines
Wunala and Yananyi Dreaming, Qantas
Hello Kitty jet, Eva Air
Alpaufzug, Swiss International Airlines
Kamagurka Hairlines, Tho. Cook Airlines Belgium
Mega Mindy, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium
Bangkok Air
All Blacks livery, Air New Zealand
Bearbus, Germanwings
British Museum livery, Korean Air
Flying 101, Kulula Airlines
Rizzi-bird, Condor
Panda jet, All Nippon Airways
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • British Airways has launched a plane with panda-themed livery
  • There's a long tradition of airlines getting creative with paint jobs for promotional purposes
  • Alaska Airlines turned a 737 into "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon" after a plane hit a fish -- yep, it happened

(CNN) -- Does the paint job of an airplane -- otherwise known as its livery -- make a difference to you?

Does a pastel rendering of Hello Kitty or a cuddly panda impart a sense of fun and high spirits?

Or does it make you think, "Just who the hell is flying this plane and how serious are they about it, really?"

More: Too cute? Hello Kitty plane makes maiden flight to U.S.

Either way, airlines around the world have a proud tradition of getting goofy with the looks of their aircraft.

Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand  Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand
Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expandAir NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand
2012: Hello Kitty takes to the skies

Unusual livery designs are often meant to publicize partnerships or promote special events, such as company anniversaries.

The gallery above shows a few of our favorites over the years.

UPDATE: For those Gwaihir-eyed readers who noticed no Hobbits on the Air New Zealand livery and left us some comments on the matter, we have this just in from Middle Earth:

"I can confirm that this is indeed Air New Zealand's Hobbit-inspired 777-300ER aircraft. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins features at the rear end of the aircraft which isn't visible in the picture you have used," the airline's Emma Field told us.

We've added a different view of the plane to the left of this story.

And if you're wondering about our answers to the questions at the top of this piece., they're: yes, yes and yes!

Let us know what you think of creative airplane liveries in the comments section.

More: How airline liveries reflect a changing industry

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:17 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Scrap all those other bucket lists you've been compiling and start saving -- these memorable-for-a-lifetime trips don't come cheap, or easy.
updated 9:40 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
A squabble over a device that limits how far a seat can recline has brought inflight etiquette into the spotlight again.
updated 6:23 AM EDT, Fri August 29, 2014
Thirst for victory competes with thirst for booze in event where competitors raise their glasses long before they cross the finish line.
updated 5:57 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
At these fun Los Angeles bars, the the drinks come with a chaser of kitsch.
updated 4:41 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
From dining next to massive predators to drinking atop a rock in the middle of the ocean, Africa boasts some of the most interesting places to eat.
updated 1:12 AM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Just weeks after Bill HIllman, known as a veteran, expert bull runner, was badly gored in Pamplona, he's back at other smaller bull runnings in Spain, but walking with a cane.
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Thu August 28, 2014
Don't like the country you live in? Why not create your own, as many people have done. We uncover the parallel world of "micronationalism."
updated 9:41 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
LUSAIL CITY, QATAR: In this handout illustration provided by Qatar 2022, the Qatar 2022 Bid Committee today unveiled detailed plans for the iconic Lusail Stadium. With a capacity in excess of 86,000 and surrounded by water, the stadium would host the World Cup Opening Match and Final if Qatar wins the rights to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup. If Qatar is awarded the honour of staging the 2022 FIFA World Cup, construction of the Lusail Stadium will start in 2015 and be completed in 2019. It will retain its full capacity after 2022.
Grab a glimpse of the near future. Plans for the desert city of Lusail include man-made islands and a host arena for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
updated 9:24 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
A CNN producer experiences China's poor on-time flight record firsthand as his plane takes off eight hours late.
updated 2:00 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
New Yorker Kerrin Rousset's exploration of Swiss city aims to lure cocoa fans over to the dark side.
updated 4:39 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Some things are just better after dark. These experiences around the world prove it.
updated 11:59 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Lebanon's winemakers are adopting new tactics to get their products noticed.
updated 2:26 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT