Gorgeous: Air Canada Airbus A220 In Retro Livery

Filed Under: Air Canada

It’s not uncommon to see airlines paint planes in special liveries, particularly retro liveries that commemorate the carrier’s past. A few weeks ago I posted about Air Canada’s beautiful new plane in a retro livery, and the airline has today officially unveiled it.

Air Canada’s special livery Airbus A220

Air Canada has just taken delivery of a brand new Airbus A220-300 that’s quite special. The A220 is the sharpest looking narrow body plane to begin with, and I think it looks especially sharp in Air Canada’s standard new livery, thanks to the A350-style cockpit finishes.

Well, Air Canada’s newest A220 (with the registration code C-GNBN) commemorates Trans-Canada Air Lines, the predecessor to Air Canada. Seriously, how cool-looking is this plane?!

People often don’t realize just how much work goes into painting an aircraft, so here are some fun facts:

  • It took nine days to paint this A220
  • 75 Airbus Canada employees from a variety of teams were involved in painting
  • Four colors were used for the livery
  • 350 liters of paint were used

Here’s an awesome video of the plane being painted:

What was Trans-Canada Air Lines?

For those of you who don’t know the history, Trans-Canada Air Lines was founded in 1937, and in 1965 it was renamed Air Canada. So this isn’t even the case of commemorating a takeover, or anything, but rather just a rebranding.

This isn’t the first time Air Canada painted a plane in the Trans-Canada Air Lines retro livery. The airline had painted an Airbus A319 (with the registration code C-FZUH) in the livery back in 1997, to celebrate its 60th anniversary. That plane was finally retired in January 2021 after 24 years of service, so it’s cool that just a couple of months later a new plane is emerging in this livery.

Photo credit: NEKskier

For context, since the Trans-Canada Air Lines brand ceased to exist over 55 years ago, below is what a DC-8 looked like at the airline back in 1964, shortly before the rebranding.

Photo credit: Ralf Manteufel

I’m not sure if it comes down to picture quality so many years ago or what, but the livery does look a bit different, and specifically the base paint coat seems to be white rather than silver. Frankly the modern interpretation looks much sharper, in my opinion.

Bottom line

Air Canada’s newest A220-300 will be in a retro livery to commemorate Trans-Canada Air Lines, which is what Air Canada was known as until 1965. I love the look of this jet — when you combine the sleekness of the A220 with this livery, it’s just one-of-a-kind.

Do you love this Air Canada A220 in the Trans-Canada Air Lines livery as much as I do?

  1. I would not fly AC in any aircraft even for free! Worst airline in the world! Still refusing to refund tickets even after cancelling all flights on my itinerary and unable to rebook us!

  2. It would be really cool to fly Lockheed 14 or the Vickers Vanguard with these retro paint jobs. Lockheed 14 flew for Trans-Canada Air Lines from 1938 to 1949 and the Vickers Vanguard from 1961–1972.

  3. I think they need to do a Boeing 737 in the original Air Canada branding! And then do one in the CP Air orange livery. Lots of new planes coming into the fleet, so now is the time to do it.

  4. Did Trans-Canada Air Lines have any relationship to Trans-World Air Lines (TWA)? Colors and branding seem similar.

  5. @lucky, I think the base colour is based off of the original aircraft like the DC-3/4, some constellations and viscounts, which seem to have been the cheat line on polished metal which is best represented by grey.

  6. The TCA branding is only in English. Will AC get criticism from Quebec for this violation of the bilingual policy?

  7. Appropriate they picked an A220 a model that was designed and flight tested in Canada, before the line was sold to AirBus industries

    Props to Endre for mentioning the Vickers Vanguard a turboprop that was by no means a commercial success. — only 44 frames were built.
    And the Vanguard was interesting (maybe even unique) in the first class was at the rear of airplane.

  8. @John, AF in Maria’s comment means ‘as f**k’, not ‘Air France’. It is evident that she does not like this livery.

  9. I love it! The current AC livery is super boring and has awful shade of colors second only to Delta’s horrid blue/red combo.

  10. @Thermopyla ….. No, The “Air Canada” name is still on aircraft, TCA was only English, in French it was Air Canada… they just switched the English to be the same as French in 1965

  11. @HP maybe if you didn’t have the same name as steak sauce you’d appreciate beautiful artwork, don’t be but hurt because you didn’t buy a refundable ticket

  12. I didn’t know AC was so flush with cash that they were able to commission this temporary artwork…Always good to see AC has its priorities straight!
    Oh, I know…the funding probably came from the money they failed to return to customers for cancelled flights!

  13. @Lucky, what route(s) will this special livery A220 fly?

    And how is “Waldorf” Winston doing this Winter?

  14. Endre, the Lockheed 14 still flies (well of course not at the moment) for charity fundraising. Took a flight over Edmonton many years ago and it was great. The only drawback is safety required modern seats.

    Thanks for posting these classic liveries which I’m old enough to remember, but the name change and modern 1st generation AC colours arrived in the mid-60s when I started working reservations as my summer job while at university.

    And Nate, no. TCA was owned by the federal government until the mid-80s when it was privatized so no connection to TWA. However, there always was a close link with DL in those years as both were run by engineers. (AC’s first president/CEO after being spun off was Hollis Harris, a former DL VP.)

  15. Yes, really nice of Calvin to ok this, too bad he left! Whenever I travel somewhere, nothing reassures and warms my heart as seeing an Air Canada aircraft waiting there to bring me back home.

  16. @SullyofDoha they already ordered the aircraft years ago… full payment isn’t made until aircraft is delivered, however all mandatory maintenance and paint job / protector is paid in advance… Also it doesn’t take much work to do a special livery anymore especially one they already have used, all you need is a template, a computer does the rest from picking from color chart to measuring… all humans need to do is spray the aircraft like they already would’ve done

  17. @SullyofDoha they already ordered the aircraft years ago… full payment isn’t made until aircraft is delivered, however all mandatory maintenance and paint job / protector is paid in advance… Also it doesn’t take much work to do a special livery anymore especially one they already have used, all you need is a template, a computer does the rest from picking from color chart to measuring… all humans need to do is spray the aircraft like they already would’ve done

  18. This shower of crooks still hasn’t refunded me for a flight they cancelled last February. I hope they go bankrupt.

  19. As EJC said, silver/metal and grey both are part of the lineage, well-captured by this retro version…just Google Trans-Canada airlines Vickers Viscount or Vickers Vanguard images tab for a good selection!

  20. As a young boy, along with my family, emigrated to Canada aboard a Trans Canada Airlines DC-8. My first flying experience and oddly enough still remember steak was served as the main course.

  21. It is very sad that the US continue to kill Canadian businesses and technology with 300% duties on A220 claiming government support when Boeing gets the most government military funding.

  22. This is sweet! AC’s current paint job sucks IMO. I would like to see this base color and lettering with the mid to late 90’s 3D style Maple Leaf.

  23. @monte, if your IQ was more than 10, you would think that when you pay for something, you would expect it to delivered. If it is not, you get a refund. Even someone as braindead as you would ask for their money back, if they bought a bottle of spoiled milk from the store.

  24. Always preferred the early ’60s livery myself, white roof, striping extending right to the nosd.
    What’s with the BOAC speedbifr on the maple leaf emblem? I don’t remember that

  25. Agree with Timo. But you wanna see boring, check out Sabenan SAn Lufthansa, Alitalia…. what, did they all hire the same designer?

  26. I traveled in the D-AICH – Airbus A320-212 – Condor with Retro Livery MUC to CFU in the summer of 2019. Since it was a pre-dawn boarding, I only realized the cool livery upon deplaning via airplane stairs. To bad I can’t attach a picture here.

  27. Air Canada would be better off spending money on training its staff to be friendly and courteous rather than pompous and aloof, and bringing back proper meal and drink service as opposed spending it on painting planes. Worst airline in the world!

  28. @John:
    You are mostly correct as this an update from Ben’s February post. It would be really helpful if Ben could highlight the updated/revised parts of older posts he reports. Hopefully he will consider this suggestion.

  29. I love this sort of thing, and Qantas too has done it with historic liveries, although not with a version of the livery of its domestic antecedent, Trans Australia Airlines, which was merged with Qantas when they were both government owned. It’s had other promotional liveries, such as its centenary one this year and the several dream time aircraft featuring indigenous art designs.

    I’m not worried about the cost, if there was a cost it was in making the promotional video, as every aircraft needs to be painted, and variations of colour schemes won’t add very much. I’m not too jaded not to get a buzz out of flying on one of these aircraft, and had a similar experience to a previous commenter of seeing the special livery when disembarking from a QF B787 on an LAX-BNE flight.

  30. @John
    I was curious about the Speedbird, too (my biggest sadness about BA’s controversial “world images” identity was the replacement of the Speedbird with the “flying ribbon”).

    I wonder if it would be helpful to readers if, from now onwards, every airline report carried a note about whether that airline stole or confiscated its passengers’ money during Covid, or whether they repaid everyone promptly? That strikes me as the most important brand information we can have, speaking more powerfully to that airline’s values than any amount of marketing guff or pretty liveries.

    “Actions speak louder than words”, and all that.

    PS: I think it’s a nice livery, too!

  31. I recently flew on this particular airbus 220 from Edmonton to Toronto. Loved the vintage livery.

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