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The chances are by now if you travel around Europe, you’ve probably seen one of Brussels Airlines ‘Icon’ aircraft at some point over the past few years. After honouring Tintin in 2015, followed by Magritte, the Red Devils, Tomorrowland and the Smurfs, Brussels Airlines has just unveiled another Belgian Icon, a unique aircraft inspired by Flemish renaissance painter Bruegel the Elder.

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While most of us might be scratching our heads to work out who that is (and here’s a tip, he’s not on Game of Thrones), the result is the most complex plane livery in the world simply due to the enormous level of detail that was hand painted.


2019 is officially the year of Bruegel, so for the occasion, the airline joins forces with Visit Flanders and BOZAR – Centre for Fine Arts, who acted as curatorial advisors and suggested two contemporary Belgian artists, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys. The artist duo was commissioned to imagine a design for the aircraft that looks at the work of the old master from the perspective of their own artistic practice.

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The result is a 37 m long Airbus A320 baptised ‘Bruegel’. The two sides of the fuselage feature an entirely different design, which in total took 19 days to paint by hand. In fact, the statistics are impressive in themselves.

That’s 1200 man hours, applying 500 litres of primer, followed by 140 litres of clear coat and no less than 30 colours. The airline plans on keeping the livery until at least 2024, although with the latest Lufthansa Group websites dropping the Brussels Airlines tail fin, in favour of the Eurowings tail, the future of Brussels Airlines as a brand still has an uncertain future it seems.

The Big Picture

Posted by:Jonny Clark

One thought on “Brussels Airlines Launches Bruegel, Its Sixth Belgian Icon

  1. It’s beautiful.
    Although I question the wisdom of the management to spend so much of money in this exercise when the possibility of Bruselles airlines being folded into Eurowings operations is quite high. How do they justify it in these times of wafer thin margins. Plus repainting it once again once it becomes Eurowings.
    I felt it should be called out, thus the comment.

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