American CEO says employees can choose the tail

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Employees of the newly merged American Airlines will be allowed to decide whether to keep the controversial new American tail or return to the prior one, but, like many of the carrier’s passengers, the new livery appears to be growing on CEO Doug Parker.

“People have already begun to ask me, ‘Which livery do you hope wins?” The answer is I honestly do not care. I think both look fantastic. As someone who began working at American in 1986, I, like many of you, am fond of the AA [livery] and think it reflects the proud history of this airline,” Parker says in a message to employees.

“But I also think the new branding looks great. It is bold, professional, fresh and represents American well. And the more aircraft I see painted in this scheme, the more I like it.”


Parker says that while he enjoys “debating the merits of certain aircraft liveries as much as anyone, I have always believed they are not particularly important to the success of an airline”. Some branding specialists would disagree quite vehemently with Parker.

Read Doug Parker’s full statement to employees here.

Several high-profile aviation pundits and journalists who are active on Twitter – Plane Business’ Holly Hegeman, travel analyst Henry Harteveldt and Leeham News’ Scott Hamilton to name a few – have vocally decried the new livery for months.

Parker’s decision to give employees a choice, is nothing short of “brilliant”, says airline consultant Mike Miller. “It ends the controversy, and any change just effects the tail, with no expensive re-do.”

American is also asking travelers to weigh in, and declare which livery they prefer (using the hashtags #keeptail or #switchtail on Twitter). The new livery boasts a new logo and a distinctive flag tail, while a modified version would retain the new logo but bring back the previous tail.

American tail 1

American tail 2