The A380 – Painting the Skies of the World

ANA A380 Paint Roll-Out

Painting the skies

To receive their first livery, all A380s are flown to a dedicated Airbus painting hangar in Hamburg, which is like a vast industrial art studio.

A 0.2mm layer of paint covering the entire 3600m2 exterior of an A380 can use 3600 litres of paint and add 650 kg to the weight of the plane – remarkably little weight for such a large airplane.

The painting process itself happens after a two-week preparation phase, with professional teams using giant cutouts to mark out the airplane’s colors and design.

Here’s an Asiana Airlines A380 receiving its livery.

All airlines carry their distinctive brands on their airplanes but some A380 operators go further than others when it comes to transforming their livery into works of art.

Hi Fly – one of the latest airlines to introduce an A380 – has used its new livery to make a statement in support of the environment.


The airline has painted an A380 in support of the Mirpuri Foundation’s ‘Save the Coral Reefs’ campaign. It’s hoped the livery will highlight the urgent need to protect and preserve the oceans.

Hi Fly is being followed by All Nippon Airways (ANA), which also recently unveiled its first A380. The new airplane – painted with a special sea turtle livery – will fly the Tokyo-Honolulu route from Spring 2019.

ANA-A380-blue-turtle-livery.jpg  @Airbus

The stunning ‘Flying Honu’ design is the work of Tokyo resident Chihiro Masuoka, who won a design competition that generated 2,197 entries.

The green sea turtle – called ‘Honu’ in the local Hawaiian language – is considered sacred. ANA says it hopes the ‘Flying Honu’ livery will pass on “happiness and luck” to passengers flying to Honolulu.

Wildlife was also the theme across at Emirates, which has its own Aircraft Appearance Centre in Dubai where their aircraft are painted. The centre also recently completed work on repainting the Qantas A380 fleet.

Two of the most famous designs to come out of the Emirates Aircraft Appearance Centre were unveiled in late 2015 to raise awareness of the illegal trade in animals.

Emirates A380 United for Wildlife livery © Emirates

The popular ‘United for Wildlife’ livery featured two designs: one with six protected species and a second with rhinos and elephants.

Both designs stretched from nose to tip and spread across the giant wings, covering 40% of the fuselage. The designs took a team of 28 people almost three days to complete. 

Emirates A380 United for Wildlife livery Aircraft Appearance Centre Team © Emirates

More recently, Emirates announced it would paint 40 airplanes – including A380s – ahead of Expo 2020 in Dubai.

The airline has a strong sporting tradition, with the Real Madrid football team also appearing on the side of an A380, in addition to livery celebrating the FA Cup, cricket and other sporting events.

Emirates A380 Real Madrid football players livery © Emirates

Down Under, livery are not about football but it’s rugby, the iconic Australian sport that inspired this special A380 livery in 2015. Qantas used its A380s to support the Wallabies, the country's national rugby team. 

Other tributes are more subtle. For example, Qantas added a hat and a special ‘G’Day’ for Texas when it opened its popular Sydney-Dallas route in 2014.

Here, meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines added a magic number – 100 – to its sixth A380 to celebrate owning the 100th A380 ever built.

As part of its 80th anniversary celebration, Air France has a special livery on one of its A380s.

A plane’s livery also help passengers to identify airlines at airports worldwide. But when it comes to the A380, airlines often have much more to say through their iconic aircraft, be it supporting a team, a great cause or celebrating a milestone.

Why not take a closer look at the livery on your next A380 flight to see if you’re taking a special message with you?


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