The term “flag carrier” received new meaning as Icelandair unveiled its latest special livery, called “flag,” to celebrate an important anniversary for its home country of Iceland this year. The tri-color red, white and blue fuselage of its newest Boeing 757-300, registration TF-ISX, represents the colors of Iceland’s flag and the 100th anniversary of Iceland’s independence and sovereignty.
Despite being isolated from the rest of Europe below, the country has changed hands numerous times over the past few centuries. What started as a Viking sanctuary that was only a few days sail from Scandinavia and the British Isles quickly became sought after real estate for the kingdoms of Europe. Denmark and Norway both controlled the island nation before the country became independent a century ago in 1918.
Named Thingvellir, the aircraft continues in the tradition of being named after one of Iceland’s numerous natural attractions. Thingvellir National Park is the site of Iceland’s first Parliament, which the Vikings used as early as 930 A.D. and is one of the first centers of democracy in the world. The site is the first stop on the popular Golden Circle tour that visits Iceland’s most popular natural attractions including Thingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss Falls.
“We wanted to do something remarkable to celebrate this milestone in Iceland’s history and hope that both Icelanders and our guests from across the world enjoy flying in this special livery”, said Icelandair President and CEO Bjorgolfur Johannsson. “Together with our Icelandic service we hope that our passengers enjoy time well-travelled with us by experiencing Icelandic culture and heritage before they even step off the plane.”
Already making up half of the exclusive club of the two Boeing 757-300s that Icelandair operates, The aircraft joins the additionally exclusive club of Icelandair aircraft with special liveries, of which there are now three. The other two special liveries on Icelandair Boeing 757s are Hekla Aurora, based on the Northern Lights that draw countless visitors to Iceland every winter, and Vatnajokull, Europe’s second largest glacier.
According to Planespotting.net, the aircraft is 18-years-old and was acquired by Icelandair after faithful service in Israel. While in Israel, the aircraft flew as 4X-BAW operating for Arkia Israeli Airlines and Sun d’Or, a subsidiary of Israeli flag carrier El Al Israel Airlines. After an 18 year stint in Israel, the aircraft joined Icelandair’s fleet in March and emerged last week in its new colors at an aircraft painting facility in Norwich, England.
While honoring its country throughout North America and Europe by celebrating Iceland’s independence, the aircraft will also be supporting the Icelandic national soccer team, of which Icelandair is the official airline, in the World Cup. The aircraft has already flown the team’s supporters, including the popular Icelandic fan group Tolfan, to the games in Russia on special flights just for the World Cup. The flights serve as the farthest East that Icelandair currently flies, almost entering Asia, and the airline’s only flights to Russia.
When Iceland secured its spot in the 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, it became the smallest nation in the world to compete in the tournament. To promote the team’s involvement in the games, Icelandair and members of the Icelandic national soccer team created the Team Iceland Stopover package as a part of the airline’s stopover program that allows passengers to stay in and explore Iceland for up to 7 days while they’re transiting between continents.
A special feature of the special livery is the interior of the aircraft. While most special liveries only cover the aircraft’s exterior, this special livery extends to the aircraft’s interior. To further support the Icelandic team, the carpet of the aircraft is green and gives the illusion of the grass on a soccer pitch. The headrest covers and coffee cups also feature references to Icelandic soccer. A flying symbol of Icelandic pride, the plane is truly special inside and out.