Frontier Airlines is going to reveal new branding for itself this coming Tuesday, and has been teasing the event by sending plain white model planes to media with clues to what it may look like. But another airline has drawn more rumor attention for what is supposedly coming on Monday — a new livery for Southwest Airlines.
For aviation geeks, a new airline livery is about as exciting as a new iPhone for Apple fans. And similarly, there is a lot of speculation out there on the interwebs. If you live in Denver, Frontier hasn't done a very good job of keeping theirs concealed. At their hangar at Denver International Airport they have already hung their new signage. Their new titles are a dark green, with "F" in the same style as the original Frontier Airlines. So if we picture these big, dark green titles running down their white fuselage, with the cutesy "Spokes Animals" on the tail of the plane, that gives us a good idea of what it will look like. I also heard something about a stylized arrow running just beneath the title, along the length of the plane.
Southwest's "Desert Gold" livery: 1971-2001 - photo by Paul Thompson
For Southwest, one of the most popular and respected airlines in the country, a change would only be the third in their 43 years of history. They flew with their Desert Gold livery for their first 30 years, before introducing their Canyon Blue livery in 2001 to coincide with the 30-year milestone. Over the years, Southwest has also painted special planes in 1-off designs including Sea World's "Shamu" whales (which are also going away, due to the "Blackfish" movie fallout) and several state flags.
Southwest's Canyon Blue livery: 2001-2014(?) - Photo by Paul Thompson
Southwest's red-bellied 737s are arguably the most recognizable in the skies, and it will be interesting to see how this potential change affects brand recognition. The blue has not aged well, and is prone to fading. I've seen a few of their birds where the vibrant blue had faded to a chalky, pale slate blue. On the FlyerTalk forums, member "kerflumexed" says this about the new design:
The rumor: Dark Blue / Red Belly gone (Herb used to call em his Red-Bellied-Warbirds). No Southwest lettering on the empennage. The name Southwest on the fuselage no longer in all caps. New font, maybe like the inflight mag. Some pinstripes. New paint scheme will be cheaper than old. Wonder if new paint will be less prone to fading. Prepare to be underwhelmed.
Hmm... what do you think? As I try to picture it, I think a lot of it will depend on those pinstripes and how they're arranged. New airline liveries are always subject to sharp criticism from industry analysts and "AvGeeks" alike. When American Airlines debuted their new livery in 2013, I thought it was dull and unimaginative at first glance. Then when I saw it in person, with it's pearly shimmer and the detail in the stripes on its tail, I became quite a fan.
Again, this is just a rumor, but it seems to have a lot of clout behind it. I'm also curious if Southwest will update their interiors along with the paint. Their current "Evolve" interior does not feature power outlets at the seats, which I thought was a mistake when it was introduced in 2012. The Dallas Morning News reports that Southwest has a companywide press conference scheduled for 9:00AM Monday, which can be watched live. I know what I'll be waking up early for on Monday.