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Sky-High Paint Job Goes to a Vote

Friday, December 20, 2013

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Its recent merger with US Airways has American Airlines saying “out with the old and in with the new”—or maybe, it’s “in with the old and out with the new.”

Faced with painting hundreds of new airplanes, the company just can't decide what look to go with, so new CEO Doug Parker is letting the employees pick between AA's newest design or its old "eagle" look.

Well, they at least get to pick what goes on the tail. The company already spent a nice chunk of change in January when it unveiled a new logo and exterior for its planes to build anticipation for its "landmark aircraft order" of 550 new planes.

American Airlines paint
Facebook / American Airlines

All employees of recently merged American Airlines and US Airways have until Jan. 2 to cast their vote for either keeping the tail design on the newest AA paint job (top) or reverting back to the old design.

But with the merger on Dec. 9, an additional 620 planes displaying the US Airways livery will have to be converted.

Merits of Aircraft Livery

Parker sent a message to his employees outlining his plan to let them choose the new paint job.

"While I enjoy debating the merits of certain aircraft liveries as much as anyone, I have always believed they are not particularly important to the success of an airline," Parker said.

Parker became the CEO after the two airlines merged. He was the chairman and CEO of US Airways.

"[I] have yet to find a customer who based their purchase decision on the exterior design of the airplane," he added.

However, when the airplane is your office, the paint job does matter, which is why Parker says he is letting his employees make the decision. 

Silver Bird Legacy

The look of the airplane fuselage will remain the same, since AA just made the switch from polished to painted silver planes.

The new, lighter aircrafts feature composite materials that must be painted, and the company said its polished metal look was no longer an option.

"[T]he importance of the new paint selection became critical to honoring American's silver bird legacy," the company said in a January statement. "Silver mica paint was chosen as a way to maintain the silver heritage which American's people and customers are passionate about, yet progress ahead with a clean new look."

Red, white and blue—the company's core colors—were updated "to reflect a more vibrant and welcoming spirit," said Virasb Vahidi, American's Chief Commercial Officer.

Redoing all of this recent work would be "irresponsible," Parker noted. Plus, he thinks the "newly painted aircraft look extremely nice."

Employees have until noon CT Jan. 2 to submit their choice.


Tagged categories: Aerospace; Decorative painting; Mergers; Paint application

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