MIAMI — Alaska Airlines has unveiled today its first major identity change in over 25 years. The news broke in a moment in which the carrier remains independent, turning profits and ranking in the top of best on-time performance among the U.S. airlines, as a Boeing 737-800 (N563AS / MSN 35180 / LN 2090) was presented and shared with about 2,000 employees on hand for a company event held in Seattle.
“Our company has a unique personality and a vibrant spirit that our Eskimo has personified for almost half a century,” said Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden. “We believe our refreshed look reflects the warm relationships our employees have built with our customers, and makes us stand out in a compelling and consistent way as we expand into new markets, build loyalty and attract new customers.”
For the most part, the plane is similar to in the past. The tail got the biggest upgrade, going from just white to a nice dark blue background that we had seen in past years on the inverse AlaskaAir.com plane. A smiling Eskimo survived to see another plane while the carrier decided to take some lessons on its university planes, running blue and green stripes up the tail while leaving the nose all white.
Finally, on the front of the plane the carrier updated its logo for the second time in two years, this time going for more of a flat and bold standard font and no longer using the rough edges on the letters.
Employees were excited to see the new standard scheme get unveiled as this is the first time since 1991 that a totally new livery new has adorned an Alaska Airlines jet. This is the eighth standard livery for the carrier who launched all the way back in 1932 as McGee Airways and began offering flights out of Anchorage Alaska.
According to the airline, the brand change will also tell the story of the iconic Eskimo face that has been featured on its plane’s tail for 43 years. That iconic logo is an illustration of a real person, Chester Seveck, a reindeer herder and a Eskimo dancer who greeted deplaning tourists at Kotzebue (OTZ) for years. When first introduced, Chester’s expression was more of a frown, but this was quickly changed to a more cheerful smile. Back in 1988, the airline explored replacing the face of Chester with a new insignia. At the end, those plans were shelved after the outcry of Alaskans and customers.
“When I see that face, I feel proud. I feel like I’m home,” says Sallee Baltierra, a concierge in Alaska’s Anchorage Board Room airport lounge. “I love to see that Eskimo on the tail in other cities that we fly to, from Liberia, Costa Rica to Nashville, Tennessee. It makes me feel like there’s a little piece of home there waiting for me.”
Today the carrier offers flights to 111 destinations across the US, Mexico, Canada and new daily flights to Costa Rica. We don’t have any word yet on when the first Horizon Air Q400 will come out of the paint shop in the new livery but certainly can’t wait to see it. In addition to the newly painted plane, starting tomorrow travelers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will see a more welcoming lobby and 41 newly branded gates.
“Our refreshed brand really is an evolution, not a revolution, of Alaska Airlines,” said Sangita Woerner, the airline’s vice president of marketing. “Our goal was to reflect the soul of our company, which is known for its genuine, caring service and top-notch performance. It’s now time to show up to our customers in a bigger, brighter way.”
Alaska Airlines will take delivery of four new 737-900ER’s in the new livery, in total 40 of the airlines’ 147 planes will be in the new scheme by the end of 2016. The first Q400 will also be expected to rollout later this year in the new colors.