Delta with new livery

Delta Air Lines unveiled a new, boring, livery.

New Delta Livery
New Delta Livery

As it nears the end of its bankruptcy case, Delta Air Lines is preparing to roll out a new paint scheme for its jets — the third such repackaging in 10 years.

Delta is expected to unveil the new livery soon after its scheduled emergence from Chapter 11 at the end of this month. The airline isn’t saying much officially, other than to acknowledge a new paint job might be in the works as part of a larger post-bankruptcy marketing campaign.

Chief Executive Gerald Grinstein “has mentioned that it’s something that we’re looking at,” Delta spokesman Jeff Battcher said.

But word of the project has circulated around Delta and on aviation Web sites such as and

The main feature of the new design is likely to be the return of Delta’s triangular shield logo, known as “the widget,” to the tail of its jets, according to one employee familiar with the design.

He said a working version features an all-red version of the logo on navy blue tails. The triangular logo — currently red, white and blue — also gets a new three-dimensional look but doesn’t change its basic shape, the employee said. Aircraft colors will also be tweaked, featuring a darker blue that matches recently-revamped employee uniforms, while the main fuselage color will remain white.

Big jets are flying billboards, so airlines take paint schemes seriously. Different managements also use them to put their stamp on a company or as part of broader “re-brandings.”

The current Delta design, with its wavy color bands draped across a logo-less tail, rolled out in 2000 during ex-CEO Leo Mullin’s tenure. One of Mullin’s lieutenants termed it “sophisticated and fluid,” although some wags have termed it the “beach towel” look.

Delta has sought to involve employee groups such as the Delta Board Council, which represents employees at meetings of the carrier’s board of directors.

Not long after he stepped in as CEO in 2004, Grinstein returned to Delta’s traditional widget logo because employees objected to a subtly re-designed version that Mullin had introduced.

But at the time, he professed little interest in a new paint scheme.

“If there’s one thing I’m not going to fiddle with now,” he said at the annual shareholders meeting that year, “it’s the livery of the aircraft.”


8 thoughts on “Delta with new livery”

  1. “That’s the question. At least the widget should be turned right 90° to fit the tail in the vertical. Like they did in the old days.” The original use of the “widget” was in the same fashion as the new one: , so in rebranding the airline, they are also taking it back in history to the early jet-age. It also saves money over time — the wavy flag look took a lot more paint.

  2. Nice change of logo/font. the tail section is forgettable, not unique like British Airways or Japan Airlines – perhaps all white or repeat of single logo and not too large?

  3. I actually think the new livery is much better than the last one with the wavy flag on the tail. That one was atrocious. There’s nothing worse than a plain white fuselage with mis-mathced engine nacelles and a tail without a logo, just an ambiguous design. I’ve always liked the old Delta paint scheme of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. It looked especially nice on the 727. Airlines should always have their logo on the tail, not abstract artwork. Brirish Airways was the worst with that in the 1990’s. It’s obnoxious and embarrasing. Remember BA’s plaid tail? Yuck.

    That being said, the new livery would look much better if the blue paint on the belly went up a little higher on the fusealge and swooped upward over the wings and then downward towards the nose, to give the aircraft the illusion of a more futuristic shape, sort of like how Boeing painted the bottom of the Boeing 787. Then, keep everything else the same, but rotate the widget to the same vertical layout of the original widget (1962-1997). Keep the widget, three dimensional red/darker red on the blue background, but write DELTA in while letters on the tail like the old days. Then, it would be perfect.