Picture 85Here at TheDesignAir, our team of expert judges have looked at the liveries around the world this year and have come up with our Top 10 liveries for 2013. Whilst we have some great looking airlines from last year’s Top 10 still appearing in the list this year, there are some great new liveries that are worthy of a mention and some that have changed that knock them out of the Top 10. Included in the ones departing from last years list include American, Avianca and Pluna, who sadly closed its doors last year.

The 2012 Top 10 Liveries
10. Air Tahiti Nui
09. Porter
08. Kulula
07. Avianca
06. Korean Airlines
05. Swiss
04. Asiana
03. Hawaiian
02. Pluna
01. American Airlines

The 2013 Top 10 Liveries

10. Air Tahiti Nui

10tahiti nui

We still love Air Tahiti Nui‘s truly pacific livery. It’s a naturally warm and modern livery that encapsulates the natural wonders of the Pacific islands. It has clean bold lines and shapes that elegantly follow the shape of the plane whilst also incorporating more fluid and subtle elements such as the ripple on the tail or the flower motif in the tail. The striking white and blue design is fresh and always turns heads when it arrives in LAX or CDG.

09. Porter

09porter airlines

With the latest news that we should be seeing this livery on an all new jet fleet, this lesser-spotted design should be expanding its reach in the next few years. From Winkreative, the brainchild of Tyler Brulé, famous father of publications such as Wallpaper andMonocle, Porter’s strikingly simple yet powerful livery that goes beyond it’s metal canvas. It’s much more than a livery, playing to the design agencies strength of creating powerful brands that run across all printed and web material as well as hard products. It’s logo is simple yet it’s repetition on the tail fin echoes the nature of the airline, for the repeat business travellers that use the airline time and time again. Very modern and effortless, something as clean as this shouldn’t be forgotten as a brilliant design.

08. Island Air new


We love that this airline has transformed its image. The airline is set to take on the major airline of the Hawaiian state, and it’s new turbo prop fleet, so a refreshed look and feel was needed to remain competitive and appealing to passengers. Shaking off it’s old image, from a pretty uninspiring livery to a new professional, and vibrant livery, Island Air is a grace to see in the skies. Whilst to many the bright vibrant colours may appear garish, the actual combination of colours makes this livery feel totally at home in it’s tropical base. In fact, this airline showcases what fundamentally we all here at thedesignair like about some of the new liveries coming out, the fact they aren’t shy of using designs to fill the airframe, we sadly see all too much of the Euro-white schemes around the world, slowly creating a blander travel experience.

07. Thai new


Thai Airways did us proud with the launch of the A380, in our view, it is one of the most perfectly balanced A380 paint schemes out there, the livery is elegant, striking, regal and proud. All the elements are effortlessly balanced, we love both the orchid design and colour palette that Thai use. It is culturally sensitive, cleverly executed and well used throughout the brand experience of the airline, from website to cutlery. Whilst the airline sadly didn’t make the top 10 last year, this year we have to include the airline for careful consideration of their livery on their new fleets. Also we should mention their Thai Smile brand, which feels like a smart playful offshoot, and whilst the airline is still finding it’s feet, the brand synergy between the sister-carriers is perfectly harmonious and conveys the emotional experience you would expect to feel whilst flying with them.

06. Fastjet new


It seems that Stelios has learned, affordable doesn’t have to mean ugly. Founder of easyJet, Stelios’ new African adventure is smart, modern and in keeping with the low-cost tone, without the obvious brand assault that most low cost carriers adopt. The playful use of the Grey parrot, a mascot for the airline, is similar in brand strategy, to that of the racoon of Porter Airlines. The use of a contemporary and complimentary colour palette, geometric patterns and clean typeface make for an easy to identify and modern image, whilst obviously showing a nod to the African heritage it is flying within. The mascot is also a smart way of advertising an airline to a market without the visual image of a plane, for a region with a more sketchy history of aviation. Our favourite element, by far, is the parrot motif, which makes for a really beautiful tail fin.

05. Starflyer new

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 19.08.25

Starflyer is one of the slickest and sharp liveries out there. It’s a paint-job that makes the airline look more private jet than low cost carrier. The monochromatic look is elegant, and for a Japanese Airline (think Peach) is very refined. This killer-livery might resemble a killer whale, but the effect in our eyes is brilliant. The clever elements here are within the subtlety of the branding, especially for a low cost carrier. A clean modern typeface is under-played on the fuselage, and the SF logo on both nacelles and tailfin, are clean, elegant and refined. Whilst some carriers have historically shied away from black paintwork due to the heat effect it has on the fuselage, heating up the cabin, this airline has happily made the choice to make an impact instead. We applaud this look!

04. Asiana


Still a truly wonderful design, (and seems imitation is the highest form of flattery, as Avianca recently showed off their new colours, with what appears to be a hint of the Asiana scheme there). The height of modernity, and it’s use of grey-taupe and brighter red yellow and blues shows a unique look and feel and also gives a real sense of the airline being a luxury business player. The tail fin design resembles the petals of a flower and the overlay of colours gives the design a more delicate touch. The one thing that really shows up on this concept is the simple red arrow on the fuselage and this really counters what would otherwise feel an unbalanced and over simplified design.

03. O’hana by Hawaiian new


We fell in love with this livery when we first saw it this year. The airline has invested into its cultural heritage to create a truly inspirational and complete design. It was an artwork crafted with heart and spirit by Hawaiian Sig Zane, rather than by a branding agency, and the backstory to the livery is awe-inspiring for any designer to watch. The brand is synonymous with Hawaiian Airlines, yet has it’s own unique story and message to impart. We can’t wait to see these planes take to the air soon.

02. Hawaiian Airlines


Still one of the most elegant and beautiful airlines around. The addition of Pualani (roughly translated, Heavenly Flower) on the tail has really given it a historic and culturally connected image. However the use of the leaf motif and the bright purple and pink colours make it feel exotic and modern. I’m glad they’ve used a custom typeface that mimics something a little more ‘Pacific’ compared to it’s North American counterparts and it’s clean white frame on which the designs are placed really lifts the whole look of the aircraft. There really isn’t anything like seeing the fleet from your plane’s window in Honolulu to make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere really special.

01. Fiji Airways new


To crown the amazing six airlines of the pacific rim that have made it into our Top 10 liveries this year, is the stunning Fiji Airways livery. What we applaud the most here is the dramatic change from their current image, and a purposeful return to its roots. Following a similar story to that of O’hana by Hawaiian, this wonderful ‘heritage-bound’ national design using pacific tribal patterns and emblems show a proud cultural image that will stand out at it’s international destination airports of Sydney, Auckland, Hong Kong and Los Angeles. It appears as something still exotic, and whilst on a ‘Eurowhite fuselage’ it could have had the fate of many new liveries, and appear bland and simplistic, but it’s actually got a strong logotype, bold tailfin and interesting nacelles, that draw the eye all over the well balanced airframe. Airlines like Fiji Airways shows that we still are producing wonderful, inspiring liveries even today.

Posted by:Jonny Clark

38 replies on “TheDesignAir Top 10 Liveries Of 2013

  1. Great list, I completely agree and I really welcome the traditional ‘heritage’ liveries found on the more exotic airlines. My favorites: Royal Jordanian (still going strong; very elegant, truly royal. Only thing I dislike is the URL of their website on the fuselage, makes it a bit tacky), China Airlines (since I can remember the stunning paintbrushed blossom on their tales remains one of my alltime favorites), Cayman Airways (the friendly Sir Turtle as their mascot brings a smile on my face), Air Canada (beautiful glacier blue on their fuselage, looks like it changes color in different light situations, great 3D ‘sparkle’ effect with the maple leaf on their tail), Saudi Arabian Airlines (just like Royal Jordanian very elegant and royal. The colors really reflect Saudi-Arabia), Air Seychelles (a while ago they released a great new tropical livery which looks smashing on their A330’s), Gulfair (too bad they are struggling with fierce competition from the other Gulf carriers, but they win with the best logo; the golden falcon. Very luxurious and majestic livery), Aerolineas Argentinas (breathtaking upgrade over their previous livery), Qatar Airways (nice color combination with grey and purple), Corsair International (the new livery with the stylized sails on their tail).

  2. Did you guys consider the new biman Bangladesh airline livery on the 777 which looks awesome. Have a look its great.

  3. I don’t get the inclusion of Porter. The livery is bland and it doesn’t really match the more playful theme of their web site. They should choose if they are a serious airline for business people concentrating on serving city center airports or a playful racoon leisure airline as their website makes them seem.

    The Starflyer livery is terrible! The white belly and how the white continues toward the rear is awkward because there is a lack of balance and it is disjointed because the tail is white. The initials on the tail are hard to read It reads as a total amateur design. The web site design is just as amateurish.

  4. No mention of Nok AIr?? Have a look at their latest aircraft (they are all in different colours) and tell me this shouldn’t feature in that list???


  5. Come on, i know for a fact there are more beautiful liveries out there. What about Air Seychelles, Camair-Co, Air Caraibes or Caribbean Airlines? To me out of this list, Hawaiian, Ohana, Island Air, Thai and Air Tahiti Nui have the most beautiful liveries there. Fiji Airways, Asiana and Fastjet are ok i guess. Starflyer and Porter, come on gimme a break.

  6. I feel there’s more better liveries out there than what meets their eye. What about airlines like Air Seychelles, Camair-Co, Air Caraibes or Caribbean Airlines? Don’t they have eye catching liveries? From this list Hawaiian, Ohana, Thai, Island Air and Air Tahiti Nui have the best liveries here. Asiana, Fiji Airways and Fastjet are ok i guess but Porter and Starflyer, come on need to do better than that.

  7. As true Fijian we are proud of the new Airline and the Design which gives Fiji a new Look around the World where ever you willsee the new Air Craft , job well done.

  8. now of course the best Livery into Singapore Chnagi is Air Asia ,we really never know whats coming next .Qantas Finnair give us some other flaovour at times

  9. Transition from Air Pacific to Fiji Airways and another way to put Fiji on the map…Well Done! Dou Bula!

  10. Surprised to see Air India Express not make the list. The livery reflects the Indian culture & each plane in the fleet is unique. Got to see one of them at KUL recently & it looked stunning. Air India Express is the budget arm of Air India.

  11. Great work and indeed gives travellers the realities of what we expect inflight.
    I am also interested to know whether this bit from one of Fiji’s dailies is correct, “Air Pacific – soon to be Fiji Airways, has been picked as the world’s best looking airline for 2013.
    The airline was picked best of the lot by a website called ‘TheDesignAir’ which is dedicated to all things aviation, and has a strong following among plane-spotters and enthusiasts around the world.”

    Thank you kindly.

  12. With so many airlines painting one or two aircraft in retro schemes are they all admitting that the love the old colour schemes more than the overall white with a bit of colour? Look at the 60s IBERIA colour scheme, or FINNAIR or SAS or AUA schemes and even the old elegant Thai international scheme. Of current airlines AIR INDIA is special with its wonderful window arches and Marigold, and surely people remember the golden lion British Caledonian schemes and the Braniff Aeroplanes. kind rgds George

  13. Yeh, all nice and dandy but Qantas should be on the list, it is one of the most iconic, bold, simple and instantly recognisable airline liveries in the world. Singapore Airlines livery is boring, about 20 years overdue for a change – it has 70s written all over it. Emirates is nice and simple but quite upset that Air NZ are going away from the aquamarine and blue/green – that was/is a hallmark of that airline. A lot of the one’s on your list will date very quickly and are far too fiddly and intricate. I keep coming back to Qantas as the most bold and simple, new AA livery is very nice too – generally US carriers have poor liveries like UA’s previous ‘copy’ of the BA grey from the 80s – BA’s current livery is, like Qantas, BOLD and instantly recognisable.

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