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Livery of the Week: Air New Zealand Goes Jet-Black

The bold and sleek design was a major shift from the airline's previous liveries.

An Air New Zealand A321neo (Photo: Airbus)

Editor’s Note: AirlineGeeks is excited to launch our ‘Livery of the Week’ series. Every Friday, a team member will share an airline livery, which can be from the past, present, or even a special scheme. Some airline liveries are works of art. The complexity associated with painting around critical flight components and the added weight requires outside-the-box thinking from designers. The average airliner can cost upwards of $200,000 to repaint, creating a separate aircraft repainting industry as a result.

Have an idea for a livery that we should highlight? Drop us a line

Air New Zealand took a bold step towards updating its 1990s-era predominantly white livery in 2012. The ‘Kiwi’ airline flipped a long-time trend of historically more bland liveries for something eye-catching and visually appealing.

Currently, the airline has 101 aircraft in service ranging from ATR 72s to Boeing 777-300ERs, according to planespotters.net. Air New Zealand serves its home country along with medium and long-haul international flights.

Historical Liveries

The Air New Zealand brand emerged in 1965. With it came the first iterations of teal and blue hues in the company’s branding, which were used until 2012. Representing the airline’s Oceanic roots, these hues would largely stick around on multiple versions of the livery.

An Air New Zealand 777-200 in Los Angeles (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Circa 1980s stripes along the length of the fuselage were replaced with stylized waves and bolder titles across the airline’s fleet, according to Norebbo. This livery remained until 2009 when the airline modified it again, removing the waves and keeping a white fuselage.

Jet-Black, Pun Intended

Fast forward to 2012 to the airline’s current livery, which was a major shift from the teal and blue colors. Air New Zealand’s overall brand pivoted where black became the primary color.

The airline’s current paint scheme features a sleek, jet-black exterior adorned with the iconic white fern emblem, symbolizing New Zealand’s national pride and sporting heritage. The design pays tribute to the country’s rugby team, which came to fruition out of a 2011 special livery.

Created by Designworks, the livery actually comes in two different versions. There is a white version with a black rear portion of the aircraft along with an all-black design. Only a few aircraft feature the all-black livery, including the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, the Airbus A321neo and the 777-300ER.

An Air New Zealand 787 Dreamliner at Paine Field.
(Photo: AirlineGeeks | Katie Bailey)

The all-black version of the livery was first debuted in 2013 on a 787-9. In a 2013 Business Traveller article, the carrier said it conducted extensive customer testing, including focus groups, to gather feedback on the updated design.

An Air New Zealand 787 landing at Houston IAH (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravdis)

At the time, Christopher Luxon, Air New Zealand’s CEO, said: “The new-look livery is distinctive and iconic and we believe will inspire a sense of pride in New Zealanders.”

In August 2022, Air New Zealand turned heads again when it unveiled an all-black version of the Star Alliance livery on an A321neo, registered as ZK-OYB. The all-black livery can still be found on select Air New Zealand widebody and narrowbody aircraft.

Looking for a new airplane model? Head over to our friends at the Midwest Model Store for a wide selection of airlines and liveries. 

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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