Today, in a simultaneous cross-country launch in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, Air Canada unveiled for its customers and employees a new livery inspired by Canada for its entire fleet, new uniforms for its employees, and a taste of some of the new onboard menu offerings that its customers can look forward to.
“Air Canada’s new livery signals a pivotal inflection point in our 80-year history,” said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines at the event in Toronto, where the airline’s largest hub is located. “On the occasion of Canada’s 150th anniversary year, with our new livery, new uniforms for our employees, the award-winning international cabin standard introduced with the launch of our Boeing 787 aircraft, and enhanced onboard offerings, the future Air Canada represents the strength of our nation and the future-looking spirit of our airline. On behalf of our 30,000 employees world-wide, it is a privilege to fly Canada’s flag, and we are proud to showcase some of the best of this nation’s talent as we continue to expand Air Canada’s horizons to fly to more than 200 destinations on six continents.”
Air Canada’s fleet of 300 mainline and regional aircraft are being repainted in a bold black and white design that highlights its iconic red maple leaf encircled ensign, or “rondelle,” that returns to the tail of the flag carrier’s fleet after an absence of 24 years. The concept was to reflect “Canada’s vastness and contrasting seasons, with references to its wildlife and First Nations heritage.” The new fleet livery was designed by international design firm Winkcreative, headed by Canadian entrepreneur Tyler Brûlé.
As much as we want to love this design, we find it a little oppressive and cold (and it pains us to say, as we love the Air Canada product). Black, when used cleverly, can impart luxury, style and class. Brands like Aman or American Express or even Starflyer manage to use the colour cleverly, however, this design seems to look like a monochromatic version of Delta. The black nacelles, tail, belly and type could easily replace the navy blue of Delta’s livery, and the use of red at the front of the aircraft on the tail match the same Delta widget treatment.
Winkreative, had created the more vibrant, playful brand of Porter, another major Canadian carrier, yet has perhaps been too reserved with the treatment of Air Canada. The re-introduction of the Rondelle is welcome, but is slapdash at the front of the fuselage (along with the logotype placement), and we can’t help but feel the black ‘mascara’ around the flight deck windows mirror the raccoon eyes that is the mascot of Porter.
The sentiment of looking forward and embracing national pride is welcome, and we salute the statement from Mr. Smith, but we cannot see how his vision for a modern, proud, future-looking airline has been delivered. Like many liveries, time is a great healer, and no doubt in time we will become accustomed to the new brand image, but there is no question that we preferred the previous incarnation.
On the flip side, the new uniforms designed by Christopher Bates, do deliver on the promise. The injection of the red on an otherwise charcoal canvas, inject modernity and style to the cabin environment.