After weeks of speculation, Lufthansa officially displayed its new livery in an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday in Frankfurt. Lufthansa’s new livery will focus more on dark blue and white, leaving out the yellow crane logo on the tailfin that has been primarily associated with the airline and is one of its most identifiable features.
Lufthansa Group employees and journalists gathered in Lufthansa’s Aviation Center on the grounds of Frankfurt Airport on Wednesday afternoon for a firsthand look at the changes that Lufthansa is planning. In attendance to lead the press conference was Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr, who touted the airline’s recent success, as well as marketing executives from the airline.
At the start of the conference, Spohr stated that Lufthansa was celebrating three occasions: the 100 year anniversary of the crane, Lufthansa’s best year in the history of the airline in 2017 culminating with the company earning the title of a five-star airline by Skytrax and the rebranding of the airline. The coalescence of the first two events was the perfect segway for the rebranding of the airline, starting with the new livery.
Graphic designer and architect Otto Firle created the iconic symbol for the airline in 1918 and it has remained the symbol since then, with a few changes. Thankfully, the crane will remain an essential part of the new livery and the brand itself. As Spohr put it, the crane represents Lufthansa and Lufthansa represent the crane. While the crane is here to stay, some other iconic staples of the airline will be reutilized.
Most importantly, Lufthansa will be removing the yellow from its crane logo, a staple of the tailfin on Lufthansa’s aircraft, opting for a solely blue and white aircraft, with only a patch of yellow at the boarding door to welcome passengers onboard. Currently, most of Lufthansa’s brand is built on the color yellow, with signage, tickets and the yellow crane. However, Lufthansa stated that the new branding will use the color more efficiently, as to not overuse the color, which it doesn’t see as its primary identifier.
The changes to Lufthansa’s livery are part of a greater rebranding effort on behalf of the airline to distinguish itself as a premium airline in a time when low-cost airlines are gaining momentum, both within Europe and on key transatlantic routes. The new livery was the final stage of an intensive modernization process that Lufthansa had undergone in an effort to employ new technological features in its aircraft.
According to Lufthansa, the modernization process that it underwent included acquiring new aircraft such as the Boeing 747-8i, Airbus A380-800, Airbus A350 and others at a rate of two aircraft per week; retrofitting its cabins by installing new seats in its airplanes; overhauling its business class product; improving catering services on its flights, improving labor relations by signing contracts with all three of Germany’s labor union and improving its digitalization efforts.
Modernity seems to be the theme of the entire rebranding, with Lufthansa realizing that in order to remain viable and competitive, it needs to undergo efforts to remain modern. The airline pointed out that the 1980s were the last time that its brand underwent a change as large as this one. As times change, so must brands, despite their popularity. Spohr said it bluntly; modernity is important to making a profit. An airline that plans to take in an additional 8,000 employees in the coming years cannot be stuck in the past.
With modernization, however, comes tradeoffs as Lufthansa’s digitalization efforts in the modernization process were the driving force behind removing the yellow crane logo in favor of the modern-looking blue and white logo. In the past, digitization was not an issue so the yellow crane was able to enjoy a long tenure. However, concerns about how the yellow crane appears in digital seem to be the reason for its demise.
In addition, Lufthansa getting rid of the yellow from the paint of its planes is an effort to further distinguish the airline from its low-cost competitors. The sleek blue and white look gives the airline a more distinguished look, which separates itself from its low-cost sister airline Eurowings. While Eurowings serves to round out the Lufthansa Group, by having a low-cost carrier in addition to Lufthansa as a full-service carrier, the two cannot be conflated as one.
During the press conference, Spohr highlighted the need for Lufthansa to be recognized as the core and premium airline of the Lufthansa Group, while its subsidiary Eurowings would be the low-cost airline. Its brand is an extension of its corporate strategy, which has changed with Lufthansa’s mission to be regarded as a premium airline in the Lufthansa Group, alongside SWISS, Austrian, and Brussels Airlines.
On the subject of Eurowings, Lufthansa also stated that it plans to increase the low-cost airline’s fleet by 200 aircraft in order to promote its point-to-point model and increase its competitiveness in the European market. Eurowings is also branching overseas with new long-haul flights to destinations such as New York.
Lufthansa emphasized its caution in doing so as to protect and maintain the airline’s strong legacy and operational history. Spohr described the new livery as standing on the shoulders of airline giants, as it isn’t a departure from its iconic former livery, but merely an update to it it in order to solidify Lufthansa’s standing as a premium airline and the first 5-star airline in Europe, a title which the airline is proud to have achieved.
However, Lufthansa conceded that while it never believed yellow to be its primary color, despite claims to the contrary by aviation enthusiasts and historians, it is a vital part of the airline. Lufthansa cited examples such as when looking for a Lufthansa check-in desk in a crowded terminal, the yellow signage stands out; and yellow evokes an emotional response for many of its customers, specifically the yellow crane which would serve as a reminder of Lufthansa and Germany for its customers abroad, or signify that a traveler has returned home when it is seen at the arrival airport.
To maintain that emotional aspect with the color yellow and Lufthansa, the airline will maintain the yellow, which Lufthansa pointed out the specific shade is RAL1028, in passenger interfaces instead of its livery. To this effect, tickets will remain yellow, signage will contain yellow, crew uniforms will feature yellow and cabins will feature more yellow, in order to continue evoking that emotional response to the brand.
Spohr described Lufthansa’s plans as using yellow more efficiently instead of overusing the color unnecessarily. While it may seem counterintuitive, Spohr claims that the new approach will actually result in the color being used more, just not in the places that we’re used to seeing them. The airline understands the devastating effect that dropping the color outright would have on its image and brand recognition.
Following the speeches given by the Lufthansa executives, members of the press were allowed to ask questions. Surprisingly, most of the questions were unrelated to the actual rebranding. Some journalists chose to ask about Lufthansa’s failed acquisitions of Air Berlin and NIKI, as well as the current state of Brussels Airlines, which has been uncertain due to concerns of combining the airline with Eurowings and the loss of its Belgian identity.
Other questions inevitably included why the yellow was not included in the paint, which was met with the same reasoning stated earlier in the press conference. AirlineGeeks asked two questions: when the first Airbus A380 was scheduled to be painted in the new colors and when Lufthansa expects the signage at all of its airports to be changed to meet the new branding standards.
The answer to the first question was that Lufthansa plans to repaint the aircraft only as they come in for routine paintings instead of proactively sending aircraft to the paint shop to be repainted. That decision was made for reasons such as cost savings, but also because of environmental concerns and the sheer number of aircraft that need to be repainted, including the newly acquired Air Berlin aircraft. However, the first Airbus A380 is expected to be repainted this upcoming winter, along with 7 Boeing 747-400s and the new Airbus A350s.
The entire process is expected to take 5 years for the entire Lufthansa fleet. However, for Lufthansa’s newest aircraft deliveries, such as the most recent A350 orders, it’s unknown whether or not they’ll stay in their current paints as a retro livery, or be repainted at their next scheduled paintings.
For the second question, Lufthansa did not have an exact timeline on the complete rebranding of airport signage across all of its airports, including its hub in Frankfurt where a yellow crane can be seen in every direction because that is dependent on the current infrastructure in place to handle the rebranding. As Lufthansa serves airports across the world, it will be a lengthy endeavor with many moving parts. However, the airline was confident that it will take no longer than 3 years.
After the press conference ended, the entirety of the press and Lufthansa’s employees in attendance boarded shuttle buses for a ride to the other side of Frankfurt Airport to one of Lufthansa’s largest hangars on the field. Once at the hangar, guests of the airline and 300 lucky employees that were selected via lottery to attend were able to see the newly painted Boeing 747-8i in all its glory.
The aircraft, registration: D-ABYA and temporarily named #ExploreTheNew for the occasion as was the theme for Lufthansa’s rebranding event, dazzled under the light show that Lufthansa had put on in the hangar. The starry plane instantly stole the show and attracted every guest as soon as they walked in, with a crowd quickly forming along the rope that separated the guests from the airplane. Despite the aircraft’s mammoth size, it did not even take up one-half of the enormous hangar which can house the Airbus A380.
A stage was set up in the middle of the room, along with rows of tables for guests to sit. Food trucks featuring foods from around the world lined the room, with long bars separating them with champagne and other celebratory drinks for guests to enjoy. Tables were topped with tall glass bottles of water and hors-d’oeuvres on sticks stemming from a casing that said “#ExploreTheNew.” Lufthansa’s CEO could be seen taking pictures and preparing for his speech.
All the while, the iconic Boeing 747-8i lingered in the background, basking in glory with the knowledge that all of the people in attendance were there to see it.
Upon the start of the ceremony, a presenter hired by Lufthansa made the introductions and thanked everybody for coming. The main event in Frankfurt would be broadcasted to a simultaneous event for employees at Lufthansa’s Munich hub, across the country from the large hangar that housed D-ABYA. Lufthansa’s CEO then made a speech, in German, about the success of the airline and the positive features of the new livery.
As a gesture, Spohr announced that every employee would receive a gift of their choosing from a selection of gifts. Spohr had one of the gifts on hand, a custom-made Addidas sneaker with the Lufthansa crane logo on the heel, which he claimed was his favorite out of the offerings.
Lufthansa’s #SayYesToTheWorld brand campaign was also announced, encouraging people to open up their minds to new possibilities and idea that they may not have considered previously. Although, it was clear that its intent was to make people more accepting of the new livery, whether they liked it or not.
After the speeches were finished, it was time for the big reveal of the new livery on D-ABYA.
A powerful light show lasting over two minutes was displayed on to the aircraft. Finally, the aircraft was revealed with all lights on it. Instantly, hordes of people flocked to the dividing rope to get a shot of the aircraft in all its glory. In a matter of seconds, any and all objections to the livery were temporarily forgotten as all attendees marveled at the inherent beauty of the aircraft. The Queen of the Skies never failing to disappoint.
While everybody was focused on the Queen, another visitor appeared just outside the hangar. The newly painted Airbus A321 had arrived at the party, surprising the entire hangar with its presence, although it didn’t stay long. The next day on Feb. 8, both the 747-8 and the A321 would be embarking on tours across Germany and Europe. The 747 would visit most of Germany’s major airports, while the A321 would visit destinations such as Milan and Paris from Rome.
Die D-AISP ist auch gerade am @Airport_FRA angekommen und hat heute noch eine besondere Aufgabe. // The D-AISP has just arrived in Frankfurt and still has a special task today. #ExploreTheNew pic.twitter.com/VQdC1fMwnx
— Lufthansa News (@lufthansaNews) February 7, 2018
After the excitement of seeing both aircraft, the food trucks opened up for business, serving guests everything from an all-American cheeseburger to fresh made Japanese sushi. Just as the Boeing 747-8i that was sitting across the hangar from us would no doubt have the opportunity to visit all these places whose cuisine was being served, the guests were able to visit them as well, through food.
The event healed the wounds of division that the new livery caused. As with all new things, the livery would no doubt take some time to get used to. However, Lufthansa was confident that its customers and employees would grow to love the livery, just as they had grown to love its former one. For one thing remains constant, the crane lives on.