Livery transplant: new aircraft designs

4 Jan 2017 by Craig Bright
Brussels Airlines' A320 Magritte livery

Cathay Dragon

Cathay Pacific regional subsidiary Dragonair’s transition to its new Cathay Dragon brand was close to a year in the making, initially having been announced in January 2016 and coming into effect on November 22. The rebrand, which along with a new name and logo, introduced a livery that was designed to highlight brand cohesion with its parent carrier, while maintaining its original character.

The red variation of Cathay Pacific’s brushwing logo, along with the inclusion of the former Dragonair logo towards the front of the aircraft, seems to have managed to do just that – though opinion seems to remain divided on whether it beats the former design. In our online reader poll, 51 per cent of you said you preferred the new livery, logo and name, compared to 49 per cent who like the old Dragonair designs better.

Cathay Dragon Airbus 330


Like the Cathay Dragon rebrand, Qantas’ new livery design was accompanied by a new logo when it launched in late October, however instead of a new name the airline introduced with it new cabins for its Dreamliner aircraft.

The new aircraft livery sports the carrier’s streamlined Flying Kangaroo logo (gone are its arms and subtle head details) along with a new non-italicised font. This sleeker design undoubtedly feels more modern and appears to be a subtle improvement. According to our reader poll, 60 per cent of you said you like the new livery better than the previous iteration.

Qantas' logo and livery over the years

Eva Air

Eva Air has become known for its series of Sanrio cartoon character-themed aircraft liveries. Starting with its first Hello Kitty Jets livery in 2005, the carrier has regularly launched new designs, along with introducing new characters.

In November, Eva Air unveiled its new Gudetama-themed livery, featuring Sanrio character Gudetama, an animated fried egg. The designs showcase the popular breakfast food character basking in the sun and enjoying a life of travel, accompanied by such items as a bacon rasher blanket.

The Taiwanese carrier’s design has been outfitted on its Airbus A321-200 initially servicing Tokyo Narita, while similarly themed cabin products – ranging from culinary objects to pillows and headrest covers – are offered inside.

Jet Blue

While legacy carriers such as Qantas were busy making themselves appear more modern with contemporary livery designs, relatively young US carrier Jet Blue went in a different direction. Unveiling its “Retrojet” livery in November, Jetblue – which launched in 2000 – wanted the new design to celebrate the iconic jet age by “reverse-engineering” its current brand imagery.

The resulting one-off A320 design features blue and orange “speed stripes”, time period-appropriate typeface and a 1960s jazz-style font on the tailfin. Travellers can check out the aircraft first-hand by flying the carrier’s New York JFK-Palm Springs International route.

Jet Blue RetroJet

China Airlines

Taiwanese carrier China Airlines introduced two notable livery designs in 2016 – a co-branded China Airlines/Boeing design in May celebrating the carrier’s tenth B777-300ER and the 100th anniversary of the manufacturer, and an A350-900XWB design in October featuring one of Taiwan’s endemic bird species, the Syrmaticus Mikado.

The Boeing aircraft, which has been deployed on the airline’s Frankfurt and North America routes, features the manufacturer’s blue and white colour scheme on the fuselage.

The Syrmaticus Mikado design, meanwhile, is set to adorn a total of 14 new A350-900XWBs between now and 2018. The livery features an image of the bird just behind the wings along with wispy landscape designs in different shades of blue along the side of the aircraft.

China Airlines' new A350 Syrmaticus Mikado livery


As with Eva Air’s Gudetama theme, Aeromexico’s design for its first B787-9 Dreamliner featured a colourful illustration-based concept, this time designed by Mexican graphic artist, Jose Manuel Escudero.

Aeromexico’s new design was the result of a four-week-long competition, with Escudero’s concept beating out more than 1,000 rival entries.

The winning design features traditionally inspired imagery depicting animals in various bright colours, while the aircraft it was applied to has since been named Quetzalcoatl (“Feathered Serpent”), a deity of pre-Hispanic Mexico.

The new livery was unveiled in September and can be seen on routes between major airports in Europe and Asia.


One of the more simplistic and conventional livery designs on this list, Latam’s new look features blue and red stripes on the tailfin reminiscent of the carrier’s logo, which appears at the front of the aircraft by the airline’s name.

The design was the result of the consolidation of Lan and Tam Airlines into a new unified Latam brand back in August 2015. The first aircraft to sport the design – a B767 – departed Rio de Janeiro on May 1 last year as part of a flight to collect the torch for the 2016 Olympic Games.

All of the South American airline’s aircraft are expected to sport the new livery by 2018, including on its new, longest-ever flight between Santiago and Melbourne, which is set to begin on October 5 this year.

LATAM B787-9

Brussels Airlines

From conventional to creative, Brussels Airlines’ Magritte livery is perhaps the most artistically inspired livery to come out of 2016. Featuring two of Belgian artist René Magritte’s paintings, La Clairvoyance and Le Retour, the A320 livery was developed by three Belgian designers from the airline’s marketing team in collaboration with the Foundation Magritte, and was spray-painted on by airbrush artist, Andre Eisele.

The Magritte livery is Brussels Airlines’ second in its series of aircraft designs celebrating Belgian icons – the first featuring the character Tintin. The design is set to remain on the aircraft until 2020.

Brussels Airlines' A320 Magritte livery
Loading comments...

Search Flight

See a whole year of Reward Seat Availability on one page at

The cover of the Business Traveller May 2024 edition
The cover of the Business Traveller May 2024 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below