Updated with comments from AMR Chief Operating Officer Virasb Vahidi and statements from American Airlines' unions.
) -- Bankrupt
, mysteriously battling a merger with
that some experts consider all but done, has unveiled new colors for its aircraft.
The first aircraft with the new paint scheme, a 737-800, was on display Thursday morning at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. On Jan. 31, two Boeing 777-300ERs are scheduled to begin revenue service between Dallas and Sao Paulo, Brazil. American wants these planes to fly with the new colors as the new route is a symbol of its bankruptcy transformation.
It is unclear whether the new paint scheme would be adopted were there to be merger, but enthusiasm surrounded the introduction of the new paint scheme.
"We recognize that we have some very big strategic decisions to make about the future of the company," said Virasb Vahidi, AMR chief operating officer, in an interview. But for the moment, he said, when "(Chief Financial Officer) Tom Horton and I went downstairs at headquarters to meet with the team and to unveil the new look, people were thrilled and excited that we are moving forward with our modernization."
Development of a new paint scheme has been in the works for two years, Vahidi said, adding, "The new look and logo and delivery were decided on about a year ago." American's marketing department, which Vahidi heads, worked with an outside firm, Futurebrands.
Vahidi said the timing of the unveiling was dictated by the start of Sao Paulo service. "There was an operational necessity for us to explain the new logo today because we can no longer delay the entry into service of the 777-300s," he said. American will take delivery of 59 new aircraft this year.
Meanwhile, the newly painted 737 will undertake a tour of key American cities, including the five hubs and Tulsa, Okla., where the maintenance base is located.
The current American logo was created in 1968. "We recognize that we are the guardians of a truly iconic American brand," Vahidi said.
In designing the new logo, which will be on all American-branded signs and documents, the design team considered that the carrier will take delivery of hundreds of new, lighter aircraft featuring composite materials that must be painted. Because the polished metal look was no longer an option," silver mica paint was selected to maintain a "silver heritage." In addition, red, white and blue colors were maintained on the tail.
American pilot and flight attendant unions said the new colors are fine but a merger with US Airways remains the top priority.
"A new paint job is fine but it does not fix American's network deficiencies and toxic culture, so we continue our steadfast support of a merger with US Airways and not doubling down on the network strategy that brought us into bankruptcy," said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association.
In a prepared statement, spokeswoman Leslie Mayo of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said, "We hope this re-branding is the first of many steps toward making American Airlines a company that we can be proud to work for and one that can grow and compete in today's marketplace. That can only happen with a merger inside bankruptcy. "
-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.
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