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Livery of the Week: KLM

The over 100 year old airline dazzles with an iconic livery.

A KLM Cityhopper Embraer E190. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

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

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines boasts one of the most recognizable liveries in the skies, a striking combination of blue, white, and the Dutch tricolor. But this iconic design wasn’t always the one gracing KLM’s fleet. Its evolution mirrors the airline’s own journey, reflecting changing trends and a connection to its Dutch heritage.

Early Beginnings

KLM’s first aircraft, an Airco DH-16, took to the sky in 1920 sporting a simple livery of silver with black and red accents. This minimalist design reflected the early days of aviation, a time when practicality trumped aesthetics.

Blue Takes Flight

The iconic Delft blue entered the picture in 1937, adorning the nose and tail of the Fokker F.XX. This elegant shade added a touch of sophistication and instantly linked KLM to its cultural roots. Over the years, the blue gradually expanded, covering the entire upper fuselage and creating the design known today.

Modern Twist

KLM’s livery has undergone subtle refinements over the decades, each iteration retaining the core elements while keeping pace with contemporary design trends. The typeface used for the airline’s logo has evolved from a serifed font to a clean sans-serif style, reflecting a shift towards modernity. The white cheatline, separating the blue upper fuselage from the lower section, has also become thinner and more streamlined.

A KLM 737-800 in Amsterdam (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Orange Pride

In 2016, KLM unveiled a special livery called “Orange Pride,” featuring a vibrant orange nose section adorned with the Dutch flag. This temporary design, applied to a single Boeing 777-300ER, paid homage to the Netherlands’ national color and was a hit with passengers and aviation enthusiasts alike. In 2023, KLM introduced a slightly modified version of the Orange Pride livery, featuring a larger Dutch flag that spans the entire length of the aircraft.

A KLM 777 departing in 2019. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Today, KLM’s livery remains a timeless symbol of Dutch aviation. Its instantly recognizable combination of blue, white, and the Dutch tricolor evokes feelings of reliability, sophistication, and national pride. It’s a testament to the airline’s rich history and its enduring commitment to connecting the Netherlands to the world.

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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