World Cup Aircraft Liveries over the Years, Part 1
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World Cup Aircraft Liveries over the Years, Part 1

DALLAS – The 2022 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar today. We take a look at some of the airlines that have created unique liveries in honor of their countries’ national teams as a great way to indulge our love for football.

Photo: Aerolineas Argentinas

Aerolineas Argentinas


As is traditional, Aerolíneas Argentinas (AR) revealed a new livery promoting the country’s men’s FIFA World Cup team. The slogan has been updated from “Let’s go Argentina” to “One team, one country, one dream.”

Similar to 2014’s livery, the Argentinian flag carrier painted the new livery with team members, now on the tail, which includes megastar Lionel Messi, on an Airbus A330-200, registration LV-FVH.

GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes


Brazil is still the most dominant nation in the competition’s history, even though it hasn’t won the World Cup since 2002. There have been a total of five Brazilian titles. Even the name of this unique airline reveals how important football is to the culture of the country. After all, the word “GOL” means “goal” in English. 

Considering the name of the low-cost carrier, which has its headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, GOL (G3) is closely associated with the great sport, it is not strange to see that one of its planes has a comparable unique livery. This specific Boeing 737-800, registered as PR-GUM, has been flaunting the national team’s colors since June 2013.

Photo: GOL

The airline was just under two years old when it acquired the livery, having been delivered to GOL in October 2011. The timing, however, was not accidental because the nation hosted the 2014 World Cup in June of that year. Brazil advanced to the semifinals in this edition of the competition, where Germany stunningly thrashed them 7-1.

This year, G3 painted its World Cup livery on one of its Boeing 737-800 aircraft to promote the participation of Brazil’s men’s football team in the FIFA World Cup.

Iberia


Iberia (IB), in advance of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, painted its Airbus A330-302 EC-LYF in its special World Cup livery. The A330 transported the Spanish team and soccer fans to Brazil.

The inscription across the aircraft translated as “carry the illusion of an entire country.”

This year, the Spanish National Team chartered IB Airbus A350-900 to transport its players from Madrid (MAD) to Amman (AMM), where the club will dispute one last friendly match against Jordan before the World Cup.

Photo: Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines


Brussels Airlines (SN) is the flag carrier and largest airline of Belgium. The airline presented its brand new Belgian Icon, the aircraft with a special football team livery revealing a new Trident design. When welcoming this Icon in 2016, it was solely dedicated to the Red Devils.

The dark tail represents a trident that seamlessly blends into a flame, the perfect mix of the logos of both teams. That is exactly what the plane symbolizes, says the airline: “We are not complete until we are together.”

Brussels Airlines (SN) recently revealed a newly updated livery supporting the Belgian national team in the World Cup. Photo: Brussels Airlines

The new Trident took off for the very first time this week from Brussels Airport (BRU) to Paris.

Today, the airline is proud to reveal an aircraft representing both the male Belgian football team and the Red Flames, the national women’s team.

Japan Airlines


With the 2006 FIFA World Cup kicking off in Germany on June 9, 2006, Japan Airlines (JAL) showed its support for the Japanese National Football team five months earlier by painting aircraft with a special design entitled `Samurai Blue 2006′.

The design was of a gigantic blue Japan National Football team shirt being passed over the heads of supporters accompanied by the wording `Samurai Blue 2006′. The design covering JAL aircraft was conceived to help boost support for the Japanese national team.

On international flights, the new livery was displayed on a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft operating on JL’s daily non-stop service between Frankfurt and Narita (JL407/408), and a Boeing 747-400 operating on another route. The design also appeared on a Boeing 777-300 operating on Japanese domestic routes.

Boeing 747-8 with Fanhansa livery. Photo: Lufthansa

Lufthansa 


Another airline that picked a Boeing 747 as the canvas for a football-themed livery is Lufthansa (LH). In reality, a 747-8 built-in 2013 named D-ABYI had two of these color schemes in quick succession. First, it flew in “Fanhansa” livery to the 2014 World Cup in June of that year. 

Then, after defeating Argentina 1-0 in overtime to claim victory in July 2014, Germany went home with a new Siegerflieger (“Winner Flyer”) paint job. Lufthansa has also decorated short-haul aircraft with football liveries, including a Boeing 737-300 with the registration D-ABED.

Photo: Lufthansa

This year, LH flew the German men’s soccer team to the Muscat training camp on its Airbus A330 bearing a special livery that sends a clear message to the World Cup event held in Qatar: #DiversityWins!

Qantas Socceroos and World Cup livery, VH-OEJ, Boeing 747-438 ER. Photo: Anna Zvereva from Tallinn, Estonia, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Qantas Airways


Australia has established itself as a recurring presence in the World Cup despite traditionally being known for its strength in the sports of rugby and cricket. It made it to the round of 16 in these competitions and qualified for every final between 2006 and 2018.

Qantas Airways (QF) needed to celebrate its national football team. In honor of Australia’s participation in the 2010 World Cup, QF gave one of their Boeing 747-400s a unique livery. 

This quad jet was delivered to the national carrier of Australia in September 1999 and was given the registration VH-OJS. The “Socceroos” livery, in contrast to GOL’s 737, was a transient paint job that lasted from September 2009 to August 2011. In February 2019, Qantas finally decided to retire the aircraft.

Qatar Airways World Cup 2022 livery. Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways

Qatar Airways 


In order to commemorate the start of the world football championship on November 21, 2022, Qatar Airways (QR), the official airline of FIFA, unveiled its World Cup Qatar 2022 livery two years ago. 

On November 21, 2020, exactly two years to the day before the start of the following World Cup, the hand-painted Boeing 777-300ER departed for its initial journey to Zurich, Switzerland, the location of FIFA. The design was to eventually appear on more aircraft and travel routes.

What’s your favorite World cup livery? Stay tuned for part 2 of Airways‘ top World Cup liveries over the years!


Featured image: Qatar Airways World Cup 2022 livery. Photo: Ervin Eslami/Airways

A proficient writer, social media manager, and educator having expertise in a variety of disciplines. She's based in Kampala, Uganda. Follow her on Twitter @WinifredItungu. Email: winifred@airwaysmag.com.

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