Today: Top 10 world’s best airline liveries.
As airlines have evolved over the past few decades, so have the liveries – or the exterior designs and graphics comprising paint colors and logos – on their aircraft. As airplanes fly across the globe, their often striking liveries not only represent the airlines that operate them but in many instances also serve as traveling ambassadors and symbols for their respective homelands. And liveries, when done right, can be something of beauty. Here’s my pick of the 10 best aircraft liveries flying the skies.
There is more information below the slideshow. Think I missed one? Share your favorite airline livery in the comment section or take my poll below.
Azerbaijan Airlines, also known as AZAL, is the flag carrier of the country of Azerbaijan, and operates a mixed fleet, comprising among others B787 Dreamliners and Airbus A340s. AZAL’s A340-500s are the last new aircraft of the type since Airbus stopped assembling the A340s in 2011 due to a lack of new orders. AZAL’s planes feature an unmistakably flamboyant, bold and modern livery. The fuselage of the planes as well as the engine nacelles are painted in dark maritime blue in a waving pattern, with a lighter blue line below as well as multiple lighter blue stripes on the tail. Unfortunately, the planes look better from the outside than inside, since the airline’s onboard product is nothing to write home about.
- Official website: Azerbaijan Airlines
The South Korean-based airline Asiana features a simple yet elegant tail design using traditional Korean colors on a gray background, depicting the petals of a blossoming flower. The use of grey-taupe and brighter red yellow and blues gives each plane a modern, sleek and luxurious look. The long white fuselage is only interrupted by the simple red arrow and the company’s name, countering what would otherwise feel like an unbalanced and over simplified design. Asiana is also the only airlines that gives its livery a name as it is called “Energy of Saekdong”, the Saekdong being a traditional clothing with colorful stripes.
- Official website: Asiana
Australia’s flag carrier features a streamlined, pawless kangaroo on the tail of its aircraft, with a silver band extending from the tail to the rear of the fuselage. Qantas also bring Aboriginal culture and stories to the world through their Flying Art series. Since 1994, the carrier has commissioned and displayed striking Indigenous liveries on Boeing 747s and 737s. The airlines’ most stunning aircraft in its Flying Art series is the Qantas Dreamliner Emily Kame Kngwarreye, whose magnificent livery is inspired by 1991 artwork ‘Yam Dreaming’, painted by the late artist, Emily Kame Kngwarreye.
- Official website: Qantas
- Other accolades: Qantas also features in my top 10 lists of the best Business Class amenity kits, the world’s best First Class lounges, the world’s most luxurious A380 First Class products, and safest airlines that have never had a crash.
- Review: read my review of Qantas’ First Class onboard an Airbus A380 here.
Brussels Airlines – the national carrier of Belgium – features a 14-dot logo on its tail and sides (after an extra dot was added soon after the launch of the livery in response to complaints from superstitious customers). The airline deserves a spot in this list because of its 6 Belgian Icon planes, bringing the world to Belgium and the best of Belgium to the world. Tintin, Magritte, the Smurfs, the Belgian Red Devils, Tomorrowland and Bruegel each fly proudly on an Airbus A320 as Belgian Icons. My favorite is the Magritte plane, which is covered with the famous clouds and birds taken from paintings of René Magritte, a Belgian surrealist artist who had the rare gift to look at things in a very unique way.
- Official website: Brussels Airlines
Created by brand consultants Landor Associates, Etihad Airways’ striking and unique livery presents the Abu Dhabi based carrier as the airline of a progressive and innovative cultural hub, firmly rooted in its rich history. The design pattern named ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ uses a color palette which reflects the varying hues of the landscape of the United Arab Emirates, from the darker sands of Liwa to the lighter colors seen in the Northern Emirates. The UAE national emblem is given prominence along the fuselage next to the Etihad name and the national flag is respectfully featured forward near the cockpit.
- Official website: Etihad Airways
- Other accolades: Etihad Airways features in my top 10 lists of the best airlines for longhaul Business Class, the most luxurious First Class suites in the sky, the best airline food, the world’s best First Class lounges, the world’s most luxurious A380 First Class products, and safest airlines that have never had a crash.
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ First Class in an Airbus A380 here.
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 777 here.
- read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner here.
- Review: read my review of Etihad Airways’ Business Class in an Airbus A330 here.
For more than 90 years, Hawaiian Airlines has remained synonymous with Hawaiian culture, traditions and pride. This is reflected in the carrier’s stunning livery, which is a bold, contemporary rendition of the archipelago’s rich cultural tradition. Pualani (Flower of the Sky), the beloved icon of Hawaiian’s brand for more than four decades, gazes forward on the tail of the aircraft, watching the passengers and crew along their journey. Beneath her, a silver maile lei with woven pakalana flowers wraps around the fuselage in a larger-than-life expression of the aloha spirit.
- Official website: Hawaiian Airlines
- Other accolades: Hawaiian Airlines also features in my top 10 list of the safest airlines that have never had a crash.
- Review: read my review of Hawaiian’s domestic First Class in an Airbus A330 here.
Icelandair has come up with a unique way of celebrating the magnificence of its home country. Dressed in the beautiful colors of an Icelandic winter landscape, the carrier’s aircraft Hekla Aurora flies the northern lights across the Atlantic every day of the year. Not only is the Boeing 757 wrapped in this exquisite livery, but Hekla Aurora’s interior is illuminated with beautiful one-of-a-kind mood lighting recreating the fabulous display of the aurora borealis. Iceland is one of the best places on earth to see these Northern Lights, and it was a spectacular stroke of genius to display them on a plane.
- Official website: Icelandair
- Other accolades: Icelandair also features in my top 10 of the best inflight safety videos of all time.
Partnering with renowned Fijian Masi Artist, Makereta Matemosi, Fiji Airways created a uniquely Fijian identity that truly celebrates a proud nation and its people. Makereta Matemosi crafted three traditional Masi motifs for the airline, an ancient art form that embodies the traditions and spirit of Fiji. Featured prominently on the tail of the aircraft, the distinctive Teteva symbol represents the friendliness of Fijians’ and their deep caring nature. The Rova motif, on the aircraft engine, symbolizes the warm greeting Fijians extend to visitors, while the Makare motif, which appears around the border of the Teteva on the tail, evokes the allure of clear water flowing on a white sandy beach.
- Official website: Fiji Airways
Air New Zealand’s simplistic and beautiful, black and white livery prominently features the iconic official New Zealand Fern Mark, the use of which is managed by Tourism New Zealand and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. The fern logo on the aft fuselage works in harmony with the airline’s long-established ‘Koru’ logo. The design involved extensive consumer testing including focus groups both in New Zealand and offshore. While most of the fleet sports this white version of the livery the airline continues to have a small number of signature aircraft in an all black version.
- Official website: Air New Zealand
- Other accolades: Air New Zealand also features in my top 10 of the best inflight safety videos of all time.
My favorite aircraft livery is the one that Air Tahiti Nui created for its Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet, which the airline acquired three years ago. The Tahitian Dreamliner design features the iconic blue tones that Tahiti is synonymous with, as well as the airline’s trademark tiare flower. They’re accompanied by a tattoo pattern that represents the story of French Polynesia and its people. Air Tahiti Nui also pays tribute to its Polynesian heritage in a less obvious way, as the registration letters of its 4 Boeing 787 aircraft tell a story: “The warrior (TOA) going forward (MUA) in the great (NUI) canoe (VAA).”
- Official website: Air Tahiti Nui