American Airlines employees have decided they want to stick with the new look for the company’s airplanes.After 60,418 votes were cast in a companywide vote, American announced Thursday that its aircraft livery will feature the new flag design on the tail that was unveiled last January.“It was very close but the majority has spoken and the new flag tail will proudly represent American Airlines — and all of us — for years to come,” said American’s chief executive Doug Parker. “This livery now represents the people of American Airlines. We voted for it and it is ours.”The carrier said 31,355 votes were cast in favor of the flag tail, or about 52 percent, while 29,063 were cast in favor of the double-A eagle logo that American used for several decades. The difference was 2,292 votes. About 60 percent of American’s 100,000 workers voted, the airline said.The new design for the fuselage, which features a font called “American sans,” will also remain the same. American’s new planes from Airbus and Boeing are made of composite materials that must be painted, rather than the aluminum that created the polished silver look the airline was known for.So far, about 200 aircraft in American’s fleet have been painted with the new livery. The company now plans to paint 300 US Airways mainline airplanes, 280 US Airways Express jets and 539 American Airlines planes with the new design.The old double-A eagle logo will live on as a heritage livery in the carrier’s fleet, Parker said. US Airways traditionally has a few planes painted in historical liveries and currently has planes painted in the colors of America West Airlines and Piedmont Airlines.In an interview with the Star-Telegram last month, Parker said he thought the new American livery was well done and has a “nice look to it,” but he bristled at the idea that he was spending a lot of time thinking about it.“I do think that airline executives spend far too much time worrying about the livery of the airplane. The customers don’t care about it, “ he said. “I don’t want to fall into that trap and spend all my time worrying about liveries. I’m not. It’s important to the brand, so it needs to be consistent with the brand. It’s important to our employees, so I care about what our employees think. But, you know, that is not near the top of the list of things we’re worrying about right now.”Also on Thursday, American Airlines told employees that they can fly for free in coach class anywhere in the network.The free coach tickets are part of the carrier’s new nonrevenue flying policy for employees that will also give workers 16 one-way buddy passes to give to friends. Registered family members and parents of employees will also have unlimited travel privileges.Previously, American employees had to pay taxes and fees on domestic coach tickets until they had been with the company for five years. Employees with twenty-five years of service received free international coach tickets. American workers also had to use buddy passes for parents, who are now allowed unlimited travel privileges under the new policy.“While implementation will take some time, when complete, American Airlines will offer free coach travel across the largest and best network in the industry, improved pass privileges for family and friends, and a consistent boarding system. With more than 6,700 daily flights to over 330 destinations, let’s go!” wrote Elise Eberwein, executive vice president of people and communications in a newsletter sent to employees.The carrier will use American’s previous boarding system, which is based on check-in time for employees who were allowed to check in 24 hours before a flight departed. At US Airways, employees were boarded on a flight based on seniority.
Andrea Ahles, 817-390-7631 Twitter: @Sky_Talk