BA and Virgin Atlantic fly the flag

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic are both to assert their Britishness via the Union Flag, shortly to be incorporated into the liveries of both fleets.

BA will cease to use its 28 “ethnic” tailfin designs, reverting to a Union Flag on new aircraft. The flag in question is one of the tailfins designed by the then Newell and Sorrell in 1997, along with the ethnic designs, in an estimated £60m rebranding project. Currently on Concorde, it will be extended to around half the fleet.

Fourth Room founder Piers Schmidt, who was involved in the former BA scheme while at Newell and Sorrell, says the move is commercially justified as some core BA customers were not ready for the change. BA chief executive Bob Ayling, responsible for the multicultural rebrand, is behind the design decision which he says will cost £2m and be completed by 2002.

Ayling says existing fins will not be replaced, with the flag only applied to new aircraft.

Virgin, meanwhile, is unveiling a redesign, with a new Virgin Atlantic identity, silver fuselages and Union Flag tailfins.

The identity has been redrawn by Virgin’s in-house design arm and Start Design, which also works with other Virgin brands. Start has been working on the project for 18 months.

“In many ways, our identity is our product. It’s what Virgin Atlantic is all about – not least because it’s what passengers immediately see – whether they are flying with us or not,” says Richard Branson.

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