GRAPEVINE –– American Airlines unveiled a new logo and look for its brand and aircrafts Thursday morning, the first major redesign for the Fort Worth-based carrier since 1968.
AMR CEO Tom Horton unveiled the look online in a four-minute video just before 9 a.m.
“It’s been over 40 years since American changed its look and feel,” Horton said, standing in an airport hangar at the west end of D/FW Airport Wednesday. “I was in the second grade. Nixon was in the White House. It’s been a long time, but it is time for change.”
Horton said the redesign has been in the works for two years, before the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Nov. 2011. The brand redesign, referred to as “livery” by American officials, came from a desire to modernize the recovering airline’s image.
Virash Vahidi, American’s chief commercial officer, issued a statement before Horton spoke with reporters detailing the company’s strategy behind the update, which does away with the airline’s trademark aluminum skin. The reason, officials say, is because the new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners will be made of composite and not metal.
“Our new logo and livery are designed to reflect the passion for progress and the soaring spirit, which is uniquely American,” read Vahidi’s statement. “Our core colors - red, white and blue have been updated to reflect a more vibrant and welcoming spirit. The new tail, with stripes flying proudly, is a bold reflection of American’s origin and name. And our new flight symbol, an updated eagle, incorporates the many icons that people have come to associate with American, including the ‘A’ and the star."
A 737 bearing the new logo landed at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport about 8:25 a.m. Thursday morning and was taxied to Hangar 2 on the west side of the airport. Later, Horton stood in front of it and briefed the media, which included members of the Korean press –– the airline is adding a direct flight from DFW to Seoul, South Korea, which will begin in May.
Part of the timing of the rollout was because of that new service, Horton said. The livery will first be splashed across the airline’s two new Boeing 777-300ER aircrafts, which will ferry travelers internationally.
“As we brought the rebranding work to a close, we were very much focused on the introduction of the 777-300,” Horton said. “The plan was to put the new livery on it and send those airplanes around the world and, indeed, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The new 777-300 aircrafts will be in service at the end of January, Horton said.
Horton also briefly touched on the progress made in a decision of whether the airline will merge with US Airways, whose CEO, Doug Parker, has openly stumped for during American’s bankruptcy proceedings. Horton said the board is “still right in the middle of evaluation” of whether the merger will benefit the company and its stockholders.
“We’ll let you know when we have a decision,” Horton said.
Should the merger happen, though, Horton said he did not expect to have to change the livery. And while US Airways was not involved in planning the logo –– “we are competitors today,” he said –– Horton did speak with Parker ahead of the announcement, saying the two “had a very nice chat.”
The brand redesign will change on all of the company’s property, both digital and physical. The rollout will begin online Thursday and later this month at American’s hub airports in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas/Fort Worth. Terminal A at D/FW, which is being redesigned, will open with the new logo.
Below are two statements from the unions representing the pilots and the flight attendants.
From Allied Pilots Association spokesman Dennis Tajer:
“A new paint job is fine but it does not fix American’s network deficiencies and toxic culture, so we continue our steadfast support of a merger with US Airways and not doubling down on the network strategy that brought us into bankruptcy.
“American’s network needs more than cosmetic changes to compete with Delta and United, simply put, it needs to merge with US Airways now.”
From Leslie Mayo, spokeswoman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
"APFA is excited about the change this means for our employer - we hope this re-branding is the first of many steps toward making American Airlines a company that we can be proud to work for and one that can grow and compete in today's marketplace.
That can only happen with a merger inside bankruptcy. A merger is the best path forward for our Company, our industry, the employees, and the traveling public and APFA hopes to celebrate an announcement shortly."