American CEO to let workers pick tail design for planes

12/16/2013 6:04 PM

12/17/2013 11:11 AM

Since the merger between American Airlines and US Airways closed, American’s new CEO Doug Parker has been asked one question over and over again.

Are you going to keep the new livery that American unveiled last January?

Knowing it’s controversial within the company, Parker has decided to let the employees choose.

In a letter sent to the workforce Monday, Parker said the airline is going to stay with the new design for the fuselage since the new planes that American is receiving from Airbus and Boeing are made of composite materials, not aluminum which created the airline’s distinctive polished silver look. So they need to be painted.

But the tail can be changed.

“I think the newly painted aircraft look extremely nice and have heard the same from many of you. So we aren’t going to mess with the fuselage. That just leaves the tail,” Parker wrote.

Employees will have two choices. They can either keep the new tail design featuring the American flag or they can go back to the AA logo with an eagle between the As.

More than 200 aircraft have already received the new paint job, Parker said, so it would be too expensive to completely replace the livery.

“However you may feel about the new livery and branding, the fact is it would be irresponsible for us to start over from scratch,” Parker said. But he said he has heard from many employees who miss the old AA logo with the eagle and that is why it was included as a choice.

Employees have until Jan. 2 at noon to cast their votes.

Parker said he does not care which tail wins. He added that the airline will continue US Airways’ history of having a few vintage liveries on aircraft in their fleet. A TWA livery plane is planned and the airline will keep a heritage American polished silver livery in the fleet as well.

In an interview before the merger closed, 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.”

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