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Crazy, gaudy, clever airplane paint jobs

By Tamara Hinson and Simon Busch
September 27, 2013 -- Updated 1806 GMT (0206 HKT)
Bears might fly -- a British Airways plane sporting a panda-themed livery took to the skies this week to mark the launch of a route from London to Chengdu, China. Honoring the Chinese belief in the lucky qualities of the number eight, the China-London leg will have the flight number BA88. But BA isn't the first to put a panda plane into the sky -- click through the gallery to see which airline beat them to it. Bears might fly -- a British Airways plane sporting a panda-themed livery took to the skies this week to mark the launch of a route from London to Chengdu, China. Honoring the Chinese belief in the lucky qualities of the number eight, the China-London leg will have the flight number BA88. But BA isn't the first to put a panda plane into the sky -- click through the gallery to see which airline beat them to it.
HIDE CAPTION
Panda plane, British Airways
Hobbit plane, Air New Zealand
Salmon-Thirty-Salmon, Alaska Airlines
Wunala and Yananyi Dreaming, Qantas
Hello Kitty jet, Eva Air
Alpaufzug, Swiss International Airlines
Kamagurka Hairlines, Tho. Cook Airlines Belgium
Mega Mindy, Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium
Bangkok Air
All Blacks livery, Air New Zealand
Bearbus, Germanwings
British Museum livery, Korean Air
Flying 101, Kulula Airlines
Rizzi-bird, Condor
Panda jet, All Nippon Airways
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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

(CNN) -- 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.

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

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

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

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