Crazy, gaudy, clever airplane paint jobs

Story highlights

  • British Airways has launched a plane with panda-themed livery
  • There's a long tradition of airlines getting creative with paint jobs for promotional purposes
  • Alaska Airlines turned a 737 into "Salmon-Thirty-Salmon" after a plane hit a fish -- yep, it happened

Does the paint job of an airplane -- otherwise known as its livery -- make a difference to you?

Does a pastel rendering of Hello Kitty or a cuddly panda impart a sense of fun and high spirits?

Or does it make you think, "Just who the hell is flying this plane and how serious are they about it, really?"

More: Too cute? Hello Kitty plane makes maiden flight to U.S.

Either way, airlines around the world have a proud tradition of getting goofy with the looks of their aircraft.

Unusual livery designs are often meant to publicize partnerships or promote special events, such as company anniversaries.

Air NZ's Hobbit plane - click to expand
2012: Hello Kitty takes to the skies
2012: Hello Kitty takes to the skies

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    2012: Hello Kitty takes to the skies

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2012: Hello Kitty takes to the skies 02:16

The gallery above shows a few of our favorites over the years.

UPDATE: For those Gwaihir-eyed readers who noticed no Hobbits on the Air New Zealand livery and left us some comments on the matter, we have this just in from Middle Earth:

"I can confirm that this is indeed Air New Zealand's Hobbit-inspired 777-300ER aircraft. Hobbit Bilbo Baggins features at the rear end of the aircraft which isn't visible in the picture you have used," the airline's Emma Field told us.

We've added a different view of the plane to the left of this story.

And if you're wondering about our answers to the questions at the top of this piece., they're: yes, yes and yes!

Let us know what you think of creative airplane liveries in the comments section.

More: How airline liveries reflect a changing industry