“This is the third time I am seeing a new livery. This looks good beyond the confusion”. These are the words of Vanessa, a three-time traveller with Brussels Airlines and a regular user of the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) when she got to the boarding gate to get aboard a Brussels Airlines flight and saw the aircraft in a livery different from what she knows.
Just like Vanessa, there may be many travellers who have passed through KIA, and had it not been for them catching a glimpse of the airline crew in their known uniforms, they may have doubted that they were boarding the right aircraft.
Some travellers, simply do not care about the livery of the aircraft they travel in, whereas others are very particular about the type and to some extent the livery of the aircraft that flies them on their journey. Usually, when an airline operates an aircraft with an unfamiliar livery on a route where the travellers are familiar with a specific livery, this can create some form of excitement and curiosity.
What is an aircraft livery?
An aircraft livery is simply a unique design adopted by airlines for usage on their aircraft as part of their branding or corporate identity. The design can consist of a logo, symbol, letters in specific fonts, among other design elements.
Aside from choosing a primary livery that may be well known among its target markets and the broader public, airlines occasionally use customized liveries to commemorate occasions, human characters, and a variety of other things. For example, Qatar Airways even before the commencement of the 2022 FIFA World Cup had some of its aircraft appear in liveries to celebrate the biggest football competition.
The Case of Brussels Airlines
Brussels Airlines is a member of the Lufthansa Group, along with Eurowings and others. In November 2022, it introduced a new logo together with a new livery as part of a new brand identity. The old livery used the old logo of the orange dotted “b” sitting on a dark blue background on the aircraft’s tail, together with the airline’s name and logo on the body of the aircraft. The new livery however, makes use of the new logo, which is made of nine dots of irregular sizes forming a square-like shape sitting on a white background on the tail together with the airline name on the body, among others.
(** There are instances where an aircraft in the old dotted “b” livery comes without a tail livery **)
Beyond these two liveries, Brussels Airlines has other specially-designed liveries on some other aircraft that may never make an appearance on its African routes due to the aircraft sizes and efficiencies that may make them unsuitable to operate.
Currently serving the Kotoka International Airport in Accra, Ghana, as well as other destinations is a fleet of A330 aircraft that mostly wear either Brussels’ old or new livery and that of Eurowings’ livery.
Why still fly both old and new liveries
At the launch of its new brand identity last year, Wencke Lemmes, Head of Customer Experience, Product and Marketing at Brussels Airlines indicated that “To avoid creating waste and high production costs, our new brand identity will be implemented in a phased approach. Our aircraft will for instance not be repainted before their painting due date, as to not waste money, resources, nor paint. As a consequence, the repainting of the fleet will take several years. This also means that you will still bump into our “old” branding, as we commit ourselves to using resources until they are depleted or have reached their expiry date.”
Why Eurowings in Accra?
Frequent flyers of Brussels Airlines, apart from flying in either the old or new Brussels livery are likely to have flown on an aircraft with the Eurowings livery.
As to why Eurowings’ aircraft keep making appearances in Accra, when the airline does not serve this particular market, the fact remains that the aircraft bearing the Eurowings livery are only operated on behalf of Eurowings by Brussels.
Also, as mentioned earlier, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings are both subsidiaries of the same parent company; therefore, regardless of whatever agreements the two companies may have, it would not be inappropriate for Brussels to operate an aircraft from its sister company as and when the need arises.
Is it mandatory to fly in your livery always?
Although airlines usually like to fly in their primarily recognized liveries as part of maintaining their brand identity and, to score some marketing points, there is no clear-cut rule that mandates that airlines must always fly in their known liveries. There are instances where airlines may need to temporarily augment their fleet with additional aircraft for one reason or another, which may require them to lease one or more.
Beyond flying a leased aircraft that may be in another company’s livery, there are circumstances where a leased aircraft may not even come with a particular livery and may appear in an all-white colour. Regardless of what the livery of the aircraft is, provided it is registered and operated by an airline that has the license to fly on a particular route, that aircraft can be used for legal operations.
When Brussels first revealed the “b” dotted logo, the “b” which was formed by thirteen dots, received negative feedback from the public especially in some geographical areas that interpreted the number as unlucky. Eventually, Brussels added an additional dot which became its ‘new’ logo at the time because settling for twelve (12) would not have been an option either since that also was opposed by people with strong religious beliefs who saw the number as having a link to the twelve (12) disciples of Jesus.
Also, at the launch of its current brand identity, scores of aviation enthusiasts criticised Brussels Airlines for developing a logo similar to that of Croatia Airlines. However, as far as the story goes, for Brussels, the nine (9) dots of different sizes forming its new logo represent the diversity of its customers, employees, and destinations.
**Just by way of information, the phenomenon above may not necessarily be exclusive to Brussels Airlines’ operations on the BRU – ACC route.
The author, Mark Ofosu is an airline media relations advisor and a writer who shares insights regularly on Ghana’s aviation industry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org