Football is back: Our favourite Premier League aircraft liveries
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While being grounded for the past three months has been hard enough for travellers, for some, the added pain of missing football has left the day-to-day even more bleak. Not being able to travel is one thing. But being stuck at home with the only option of watching match replays from decades ago was enough to make any football fan yearn for live football once again.
And almost simultaneously, while travel begins to ramp back up, football has also returned.
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As of 17 June, the Premier League has returned. Although it won’t be the same football we’re used to — matches will be played behind closed doors, players and staff will be tested for the coronavirus twice a week, stadiums will be divided into three zones, no handshakes will be carried out before the match and more — live football will make a return Wednesday evening.
The abbreviated remainder of the season will pack 92 games into 40 days, concluding on 26 July.
Aside from flying resuming at large levels and football starting around the same time, the football and aviation relationship goes a level deeper. For avid football fans, you’ll know the obvious ties — Arsenal and Emirates, Manchester City and Etihad. But how are those ties reflected on planes? Let’s take a look at some of our favourite EPL football liveries.
Emirates A380 and Boeing 777 with Arsenal liveries
Emirates‘ relationship with Arsenal is deep-rooted. Arsenal’s home stadium is dubbed “The Emirates”, while the club’s kits have long been branded with the “Fly Emirates” logo. And, that relationship is reflected on Emirates’ metal.
In July 2015, Emirates unveiled a new Arsenal-themed livery on one of its Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. Registered as A6-EWJ, the 777 is just more than 11 years old, having been delivered to the carrier in March 2009.
While the aircraft was outfitted in this Arsenal livery until 2016, it was then repainted in 2017 to show “Arsenal Tour 2017” livery.
While you’ll no longer see this livery flying in the sky, between March and June 2016, one of Emirates’ Airbus A380 superjumbo aircraft was painted to reflect the Arsenal relationship. The aircraft, which is registered as A6-EES, is a nearly 7-year-old A380. While it remained in the Arsenal livery for just a few months — four months, according to PlaneSpotters — it was then repainted in “The Emirates FA Cup” special livery.
Between December 2016 and June 2017, Emirates painted its A380 registered as A6-EUA in special Arsenal colours. In December 2017, the airline repainted the aircraft in the “Year of Zayed 2018” special colours.
In 2019, Emirates painted the most recent Arsenal livery on one of its A380 aircraft. The superjumbo, which is registered as A6-EEB, features a montage of Arsenal first team players, such as Lucas Torreira, Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and more.
In 2018, Emirates and Arsenal announced a new sponsorship deal, which will see Emirates on the kit of Arsenal until at least the end of the 2023-2024 season. As part of the deal, Emirates Stadium as we know it today will remain as such until 2028.
AirAsia A320 with Leicester City livery
AirAsia, the Kuala Lumpur-based low-cost carrier, dips its toe in the Premier League. Although it doesn’t fly to the U.K., it does have some relationships with EPL clubs. For example, Leicester City. AirAsia and Leicester City both fall under the umbrella of King Power Group.
AirAsia painted one of its Airbus A320-200s in a Leicester City livery in July 2017. The aircraft, which is 8.5 years old, is registered as HS-ABV and has largely been grounded because of the coronavirus crisis. Typically, though, it appears to fly to and from Bangkok (BKK), according to FlightRadar24.
Aeroflot A321 with Manchester United livery
Aeroflot is the official carrier of Manchester United. On Man United’s website, it says that the Russian carrier “provides strategic advice to the club on travel arrangements for the team and officials”. Additionally, Aeroflot provides the club with charter services.
In 2014, Aeroflot unveiled a new livery on one of its A321 aircraft, featuring the colours of Manchester United. The traditional Aeroflot livery largely remains unchanged, but the rear of the aircraft takes on the red and yellow of the Manchester United crest.
The A321, which is registered as VP-BTL, is nearly seven years old, having been delivered to Aeroflot in 2014. Traditionally, the aircraft is used for Aeroflot’s short- and medium-haul flights.
Currently, because of the coronavirus crisis and its upending of the aviation industry, the aircraft has been largely stored. According to FlightRadar24, the aircraft last flew on 31 May between Sochi (AER) and Moscow (SVO). Since the end of March, the aircraft has only operated three flights.
Because Aeroflot’s route network doesn’t include Manchester (MAN), you won’t regularly find this aircraft flying to the airport for traditional passenger services — though it may happen if Man United were to use the aircraft for charter purposes. Instead, you’re more likely to see this A321 flying to and from London Heathrow (LHR), which Aeroflot does serve.
Etihad 787 with Manchester City livery
Since 2009, Etihad and Manchester City have been partners. Manchester City’s home is now called “Etihad Stadium”, having picked up the name in 2011. Prior to the Etihad relationship, the stadium was known as the City of Manchester Stadium.
In October 2019, Etihad unveiled its newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, which was painted in an identifiable Manchester City-themed livery.
The aircraft, which is registered as A6-BND is not quite 1 year old, having been delivered from Boeing to Etihad in October 2019. Because of the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent downturn in aviation demand, the Dreamliner has largely been stored. Since the end of April, the aircraft has operated five flights — between the airline’s base in Abu Dhabi (AUH) and Bengaluru (BLR), Manila (MNL) and Dhaka (DAC).
While Etihad does fly nonstop between Manchester (MAN) and Abu Dhabi (AUH), it appears that in future flight schedules, it uses a Boeing 787-10 aircraft. However, on a few flights last year and early in 2020, Etihad used the Man City Dreamliner on its route to MAN. The last time that happened was on 11 January 2020.
AirAsia A320 with Manchester United livery
In 2006, Asian low-cost carrier AirAsia became the official low fares carrier of Manchester United. Though the carrier doesn’t fly to the U.K. — or Manchester for that matter — Man United does have a large following in Asia. And as such, between January 2006 and April 2009, one of the carrier’s aircraft was painted in Manchester United colours
The aircraft, which is registered as 9M-AFC, is a 14-year-old Airbus A320-200 aircraft. It was delivered to AirAsia in 2006. In April 2009, it was repainted in the carrier’s “World’s Best Low Cost Airline”, according to PlaneSpotters.
Garuda Indonesia with Liverpool sticker
While this one doesn’t fall into the livery category, it gets a special mention because of the Liverpool sticker placed on one of Garuda Indonesia’s Airbus A330s. Between July 2013 and February 2014, the aircraft featured a Liverpool FC sticker.
The aircraft, which is registered as PK-GPA, is a nearly 24-year-old aircraft, having been delivered to Garuda Indonesia in 1996. Today, the aircraft operates primarily between Jakarta (CGK) and Hong Kong (HKG), Singapore (SIN) and other Asian destinations.
Featured photo by Arnold O. A. Pinto/Shutterstock.
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