Ten of the coolest retrojet airline liveries

A blast from the past – historical paint schemes are very popular amongst aviation enthusiasts. Here are ten great examples you might have missed

There’s something quite special about seeing historical paint schemes on state-of-the-art airliners. The juxtaposition of witnessing old upon new, provides a special satisfaction that many ‘avgeeks’ recognise.

British Airways’ series of schemes to mark its 100th anniversary last year were arguably the most famous examples in recent years, but there have been many great instances which may not have received the attention they deserved at the time.

Air France 75th Anniversary

To mark 75 years of operation, the French flag carrier painted one of its Airbus A320s in a special livery. The jet, F-GFKJ (c/n 063) wore the colours from November 2008 until the example was withdrawn from use on October 31, 2013.

Air France
Photo: Flickr Commons/José Luis Celada Euba

Notably, the narrowbody was the airline’s third example of the type having been delivered on September 1, 1989.

The CFM International-powered jet flew with the carrier for 25 years before being broken up at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, Arizona in 2015.

British Airways Negus 757

In October 2010, British Airways painted a Boeing 757 in a “1970s Retro” scheme to mark the retirement of the type from service the following month.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Mark Harkin

The aircraft, G-CPET (c/n 29115) wore the design for only one month before it was withdrawn from use and stored at Heathrow on November 6, 2010.

Delivered to the airline on May 12, 1998, the Rolls-Royce RB211-powered jet underwent passenger to freighter conversion following its retirement from BA and was acquired by FedEx in February 2012.

KLM Celebrates 90 Years

Shortly before its 90th anniversary in December 2008, Dutch flag carrier KLM painted one of its Boeing 737s in a special livery to mark the occasion.

Photo: Aviation Image Network/Bailey

The narrowbody, PH-BXA (c/n 29131) was delivered to the airline on February 22, 1999 and wore the livery until January 2018 when it was returned to the standard livery.

Alaska Airlines 75th Anniversary

A Boeing 737-800 was repainted by Alaska Airlines to celebrate its 75th anniversary in March 2007. The jet, N569AS (c/n 35184) sported the scheme until September 2017.

Photo: Aviation Image Network/Bailey

The all grey design was world’s apart from the carrier’s current white, blue, and green model.

The Seattle-based airline was founded in 1932 as McGee Airways and commenced operations under its current name on June 6, 1944.

TAP Air Portugal A330

Between June 2017 and March 2019, one of the Portuguese flag carrier’s Airbus A330s wore a special heritage paint scheme.

The widebody, CS-TOV (c/n 1006) is a former Singapore Airlines example that was delivered to the operator on May 22, 2017.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/BriYYZ

The design features the original thin red cheatline that was on the airline’s aircraft in the 1950s and 60s.

The jet was returned to its lessor in May 2019 and eventually delivered to Air Canada who subsequently re-registered it as C-GEGC.

United’s A320 ‘Friend Ship’

To celebrate its 85th anniversary, United Airlines painted an Airbus A320 in a retro livery in April 2011. The aircraft, N475UA (c/n 1495) is still wearing the livery which features the famous “Friend Ship” slogan.

Friend Ship
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Tomás Del Coro

The 19-year-old narrowbody is currently in storage at the Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico.

United Airlines will celebrate its 95th anniversary on April 6 next year.

Lufthansa’s Retro Jumbo

The penultimate Boeing 747-8 to be delivered to German flag carrier Lufthansa was painted in a retro livery upon hand-over.

LH 748
Photo: Aviation Image Network/Bailey

The jet, D-ABYT (c/n 37844) currently sports a white and grey design which includes the famous blue cheatline.

Named “Köln”, the jumbo was delivered to the airline on March 20, 2015 and is currently in storage at Frankfurt airport because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

El Al’s Historic Dreamliner

To mark its 70th anniversary, El Al painted one of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners in a special livery. The two-year-old jet, 4X-EDF (c/n 63394) was delivered brand-new wearing the historic scheme.

El Al
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/LLHZ2805

The Roll-Royce Trent 1000-powered aircraft is one of 15 Dreamliners operated by the Israeli flag carrier.

Austrian Airlines Retro Airbus

Between March 2008 and January 2019, Austrian Airlines A320 OE-LBP (c/n 797) was painted in a special retro livery. The 22-year-old jet, which was delivered to the carrier on March 31, 1998 with 150 seats, has recently been upgauged to accommodate 174 passengers in a single-class layout.

Photo: Aviation Image Network/Bailey

Shortly after repainting the narrowbody in standard Austrian Airlines colours, the carrier gave another example, OE-LBO (c/n 776) the retro treatment.

Finnair Flashback

Aptly named “Silver Bird”, Finnair Airbus A319 OH-LVE (c/n 1791), was painted in a silver and blue retro livery from July 2008 until June 2012 when it was withdrawn from use by the flag carrier.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Aero Icarus