American Airlines has just unveiled a boldÂ new redesign for its fleet.
However, the U.S. airline has in the processÂ ditched the iconic red, white, and blue stripes along the fuselage, as well asÂ the polished aluminum siding, drawing ire from critics.
It is the airline’s first major rebrandingÂ effort in 40 years; the 59 new aircrafts that will be ordered this year willÂ also be pained in the new scheme.
‘We thought it was time to update the look -Â it’s been 40 years,’ Thomas Horton, CEO of American’s parent, AMR Corp., said inÂ an interview.
American expects about one-third of itsÂ fleet, or roughly 200 planes, will sport the new look by the end of the yearÂ with the rest to be repainted within five years.
The makeover will extend to airport signs,Â self-help kiosks and American’s website.
American declined to say how much theÂ ‘rebranding’ campaign will cost.
But not everyone is a fan of theÂ overhaul. Bloomberg Businessweek said the rebranding signaled the death of ‘TheÂ Aviator’ generation, and the beginning of ‘Team America: WorldÂ Police.’
Horton said planning for the redesign beganÂ in the summer of 2011, when American announced it would buy hundreds of newÂ planes from Boeing and Airbus, many of which will be made of composite materialÂ that can’t easily be painted in American’s traditional polished-aluminiumÂ look.
That means American was thinking of aÂ makeover even before it filed for bankruptcy protection in NovemberÂ 2011.
Horton said bankruptcy creditors were keptÂ informed about the redesign. The desire to cut costs didn’t derail theÂ effort.
‘We’re very much coming to the end of theÂ restructuring, and really all the cost-reduction initiatives have been boltedÂ down,’ Horton said. ‘We really are at that moment now to turn the page and setÂ the course for a new American.’
Under pressure from creditors, AMR isÂ studying whether to embrace a merger with US Airways or remain on itsÂ own.
A decision is expected soon, and Horton saidÂ the redesign doesn’t tilt the company toward either outcome.
Horton said AMR did not tell US Airways inÂ advance about the new livery – ‘That wouldn’t have been appropriate; they’re aÂ competitor’ – but he gave US Airways Group Inc. CEO Doug Parker a courtesyÂ heads-up on Wednesday night.
US Airways praised the ‘compelling result’ ofÂ the redesign, as spokesman Ed Stewart put it.
The pilots’ union at American, which has longÂ fought with AMR and wants company management replaced, was lessÂ enthusiastic.
‘A new paint job is fine but it does not fixÂ American’s network deficiencies and toxic culture,’ said Dennis Tajer, aÂ spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association.
His and other unions at American support aÂ merger that would put US Airways executives in charge of the combinedÂ airline.