The new Brussels Airlines livery is out. And I’m seeing spots, dots, speckles and freckles. As Graham Chapman used to say: What’s all this then?
Not that the prior Brussels — or is it Bubbles? — paintjob was anything grand, but this one is just depressing. The typeface is attractive, and there’s no reason to dislike the lowercase “b,” as other reviewers seem to. The rest of it, though. Doubtless the conceivers of this gibberish see their work as hip and modern and clever. What the rest of us see is meaningless and boring.
“Peculiar,” I described it in the header. It’s that, and more too; which is to say less. Behold the modern livery in perhaps its inevitable culmination: a palette of random nothingness.
Brussels Airlines was formed in 2005 after the demise of Sabena, which had been the Belgian flag carrier since 1923. (Try Googling up photos of some old Sabena 747-200s for an idea of what an a livery should look like.) Today it operates around 40 aircraft to nearly a hundred cities throughout Europe, Africa, and North America.
It’s one of the few carriers to call itself after a city rather than a country. Offhand I can think of at least five others, past and present, who did the same thing. How many can you name?
Brussels Airlines – Belgium’s flag carrier and part of the Lufthansa group – was forced to shut down operations completely during the first wave of the pandemic last year. Since reopening they’ve been gradually ramping services up again. And to keep the momentum going they recently revealed a complete livery redesign.
It’s a spin on the Eurowhite look that’s been increasingly popular around the world: a white background without solid colors or cheatlines on the fuselage. There’s no more dotted “B” on the tail either, but dots still make an appearance on the tail and the front of the fuselage. The nine orange dots in a 3×3 grid (the new core logo) are all different sizes, representing the diversity of the airline’s crew and customers.
I think the colors are the strongest part of the new design. The gorgeous deep blue text goes nicely with the red on the tail. The new fonts are an improvement too. But all those dots? I think they work better on the longer A330 (see the lower-right pic above). But on the A320 they cover more of the fuselage, and the plane ends up looking like it has technicolor chicken pox. Your overall opinion of the livery likely depends on your attitude towards the Eurowhite look. But compared with the dated prior livery, it’s definitely a change for the better. Another clear win is that white paint is lighter and reflects more heat, which offers a degree of environmental benefit.
Comment below to let us know what you think of the new look, livery enthusiasts!
All images courtesy of Brussels Airlines.
SENIOR CORRESPONDENT – NEW YORK, NY. Manu got his private pilot license in high school, setting the tone for his interest in all things aviation. He earned his frequent flyer credentials working as a journalist, and is now a medical resident in New York City. He enjoys writing about air travel from a millennial’s perspective.
AIR SENEGAL is a new and expanding carrier poised to become one of the largest in the region. Based out of the new (and boringly designed) Blaise Diagne International Airport near Dakar, the carrier has opened up routes to Europe and the United States.
We haven’t had a serious West African contender since the days of Air Afrique, the pan-national collective whose green-and-white jets were a familiar sight from 1961 until 2002. I’ve spent a lot of time in Senegal and have a fondness for the country, so at least for me the emergence of new national airline is exciting.
What someone needs to explain, however, is this clown show of a livery…
What a shame. It’s disappointing because the colors and patterns of the Senegalese flag offer so many handsome possibilities. The constipated typeface, with its little serifs and skinny letters, is not only unattractive, but distractingly out of synch with a tail design that looks, quite literally, as if it were drawn by a child.
The weirdly truncated star is an especially ugly and bizarre flourish. That they’ve splashed this design, broken star and all, onto the engine nacelles as well, only makes it worse.
The only part to like is maybe the tricolor arrow design near the cockpit. Seems they could have expanded on this motif in lieu of that dizzying amoeba.
LATE LAST WEEK, Alitalia operated its final flight and officially ceased to exist. For seventy-four years, Linee Aeree Italiane S.p.A., as it was formally known, had carried Popes, kings, despots, movie stars, and tens of millions of tourists, across a network that once spanned six continents.
Its demise was both a complete surprise and not the least bit shocking. The airline spent its existence in a more or less permanent state of distress; yet it always managed to pull through, be it from a government bailout, cash from a foreign partner, or some combination. Not this time. Thus, one of the most recognized names in the industry has disappeared, joining the likes of Swissair, Sabena, Malev, and the other classic European carriers that have vanished.
Alitalia long-haul routes in the early 1970s
A new, government-owned entity, Italia Trasport Aereo (ITA) is taking its place. With the whole thing being schemed out in advance, it’s more of a reincorporation — a reinvention — than a shut-down in the traditional sense, with ITA absorbing most of Alitalia’s assets and employees. Could they not have done this without totally dissolving such a well-known brand? Though, maybe, having left such a legacy of struggle, that was the point.
The transition has so far been messy. The ITA website and mobile app have been plagued with problems, and the new airline has struggled to receive U.S. government approval to operate here. While they sort things out, let’s do the fun thing and have a look at the identity they’ve come up with…
I can’t get my head around this one. It’s not ugly so much as confusing. Or maybe it’s confusing and ugly. The colors and styles are so mis-matched as to seem almost arbitrary — a big, weird, non-sequitur. The patterned tail motif reminds me of a doily, or the kind of tablecloth you’d find in certain Italian restaurants. To replace Alitalia’s iconic “A” emblem, worn since the ’70s, they needed to step up. They didn’t.
About the only positive thing is the ITA logo. The typeface is distinctive and elegant in an old-school sort of way. (In fact it’s almost too old-school, reminiscent of a made-up airline from a movie.) And smartly, they’ve kept the red, white and green, which is a nod to Alitalia and the colors of the flag. On the airplane, however, the letters are rendered only in white, so the whole effect is lost.
In an annoying last-minute decision, they went and added “Airways” into the carrier’s name. “ITA,” just by itself, was smoother, simpler, and perfectly adequate. But no, they had to jam “Airways” in there, because apparently passengers are stupid and might forget that it’s an airline. Loosely translated, the carrier is now called “Italian Air Transport Airways.”
With or without the extra word, it lacks the poetry of “Alitalia.” Still, it’s better than “Italian Air,” “Prego,” or any of several other garish possibilities. We may have dodged a bullet there.