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The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones
"Lady Thatcher wanted to cover up the whole new image and now BA is doing just that"
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Friday, 11 May, 2001, 09:10 GMT 10:10 UK
BA turns tail on colours
Jumbo jet with ethnic logo
The colourful tailfins are to be phased out
British Airways has announced plans to restore the red, white and blue Union flag symbol to all its 338 aircraft.

The move marks the end for the airline's colourful but heavily criticised "world images" tailfin designs.

About 100 planes still bear the world colours and BA hopes to repaint all these within two-and-a-half years.

The multi-coloured images will also be removed from boarding passes, ticket wallets, baggage tags and business cards.

Our aim is to bring back consistency and unity to the BA brand

Mike Crump
BA senior design manager
The logo replacement has been ordered by the airline's Australian chief executive, Rod Eddington.

A BA spokesman said of the move: "Britishness has been at the core of BA and that view is held worldwide.

"In motoring, BMW is associated with quality and makes no bones about its being German.

"In the same way, we see ourselves as being a quality, British airline."

Former BA chief executive Bob Ayling originally introduced the world colours in 1997, to replace the union flag.

He stressed that 60% of BA's passengers were non-British and said some considered the old BA colours a bit stuffy.

'Cosmopolitan' outlook

Opponents of the new designs, who included former prime minister Lady Thatcher, claimed they made BA look like a third-world airline.

The much-criticised 60m re-branding featured designs from Delft pottery to Chinese calligraphy.

They were commissioned from international and British artists in an effort to reflect the airline's "cosmopolitan" outlook.

new tailfins
The 'world images' tailfins provoked criticism
Lady Thatcher famously draped a handkerchief over a model plane with the world colours logo, declaring it "awful".

The union colours were retained on BA's flagship, Concorde, and it was later announced that some other BA planes would return to the red, white and blue.

Mr Ayling had maintained the multi-coloured tailfins had proved popular across the world and said some aircraft sporting the international look would not be repainted.

But Mr Ayling resigned in April last year and his successor, a former boss of Cathay Pacific, has decided to focus on BA's traditional values and Britishness.

BA's senior design manager Mike Crump said: "Our aim is to bring back consistency and unity to the BA brand through a simpler identity.

"Research has shown that the Union flag design is liked by our core customers and staff worldwide.

"They believe it better reflects the direction the company is now heading and reinforces a core goal of Britishness in a more modern and less formal way."

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See also:

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BA to fly the flag again
09 Feb 99 | The Company File
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