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Griffiss firm helps yellow planes take off

Dan Guzewich
Posted 9/17/14

Spirit Airlines is flying with a vibrant new look with the help of an aircraft overhaul facility at Griffiss International Airport. A freshly painted Airbus 319 was pulled out of Premier Aviation …

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Griffiss firm helps yellow planes take off

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Spirit Airlines is flying with a vibrant new look with the help of an aircraft overhaul facility at Griffiss International Airport.

A freshly painted Airbus 319 was pulled out of Premier Aviation Overhaul Center’s paint bay on Monday. On Tuesday, the all-yellow paint scheme with black lettering that will eventually be the trademark look for all of the low-cost carrier’s aircraft made its public debut on a flight from Atlantic City, N.J., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

“This new livery perfectly matches Spirit Airlines,” Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s CEO, said in a news release. “It’s radically different from other airlines, and it’s fun, just like we are. When you see this plane in the air — or on the ground — there will be no question that this is a Spirit plane.”

Baldanza, whose airline is best known for its cheap fares and and add-on fees, grew up in Rome. He is a graduate of Syracuse University.

The livery coincides with Spirit Airlines low-cost business philosophy, the airline said. The simple, two-color design is more cost-effective than complex, multi-colored designs, it said.

The design matches the airline’s “bare fare” philosophy. Earlier this year it announced a brand refresh that includes a new logo and more transparency about fares and ad-on fees. 

Painted on the engine covers are the words “Home of the BARE FARE.”

Spirit spokesman Paul Berry uses words like “bold,” “bright” and “kind of fun” to describe the product turned out by Premier Aviation. He said it is faster and less expensive to paint its Airbus aircraft yellow from tail to nose, accented with black lettering, than under the old design.  That paint scheme used six different colors, white, red, green, yellow and two shades of blue.

Some might say the new color combination evokes thoughts of generics in the grocery aisle while others might be reminded of a school bus. Still more may think of a yellow-and-black taxi.

Florida-based Spirit said six more planes will be painted with the new look this year. New aircraft will have the yellow paint when they’re delivered. Existing planes will be repainted at their regularly scheduled time to be repainted, Berry said. He said the existing planes will likely be painted at Griffiss.

The fleet now numbers 58.

Spirit says the vivid yellow planes will act “as a flying billboard,” a form of free publicity for a company that does not spend money on expensive advertising campaigns.

Berry said it was a coincidence that Baldanza has personal connections to Rome and his company picking a Rome firm to paint its planes. He said it is more in keeping with Spirit’s operating model to have made the based on lowest cost and highest quality of work.

Baldanza, 52, joined Spirit in January 2005 as its president and chief operating officer. In May 2006, he was promoted to president and chief executive officer and was also appointed to its board of directors.

Under Baldanza, the no-frills airline has been profitable every year since 2007.

Spirit is not the only discount airline sporting a new look these days. Competitors Southwest Airlines and Frontier Airlines both introduced new paint schemes last week. Unlike Spirit, their overhauls are not radically different from their old designs.

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