Did Air India Attack Dubai With New Livery Launch, Or Is It A Coincidence?

Did Air India Attack Dubai With New Livery Launch, Or Is It A Coincidence?

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Today Air India unveiled a full brand refresh, including a new livery and logo. While that’s interesting and all, here’s something that I find to be even more noteworthy (and most definitely more entertaining). What’s interesting is the different way people are interpreting this.

Air India chose WHAT registration code?!?

Air India put out a press kit that highlights the details of the new Air India livery. A friend sent this to me, and asked if I noticed anything unusual. OMG, my jaw dropped to the floor, and I couldn’t believe it.

Did Air India really choose the registration code F-UBAI for its “fake” aircraft to showcase the new livery? It seems pretty clear to me what that’s supposed to stand for. Also keep in mind that Air India registration codes usually start with “VT” and not “F,” so this isn’t even a realistic registration code.

Media kit for Air India’s new livery

We know that one of Air India’s goals with this transformation is to regain so much of the Indian traffic that has been lost to major Gulf carriers (particularly Emirates), though I wasn’t expecting Air India to be so blunt about how it views Emirates. 😉

I can’t help but wonder how high up this decision was made?

  • Was Air India CEO Campbell Wilson in on the joke?
  • Was this a decision made by the branding agency?
  • Did some middle manager at Air India come up with this and just go with it, without seeking approval from a higher-up?

Airlines can sometimes have some fun with one another and get shady, but I’ve never seen anything quite this direct before…

Is there an innocent explanation for this?

Some people seem to have a completely different take on this than I do, and argue that:

  • F-UB stands for FutureBrand, the company behind the redesign
  • AI stands for Air India

So does F-UBAI just stand for the branding agency and the airline? I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it:

  • Why does the word “Future” get two letters?
  • Even if for whatever reason they decided that the word “Future” got two letters, surely they know exactly what this registration code looks like?
  • Shouldn’t a branding agency be making sure that something like this couldn’t be interpreted in such a way?

Honestly, how convenient that the company created a registration code that just so conveniently tells the carrier’s biggest competitor to pound sand.

My theory is that they knew exactly what they were doing, but they did it in such a way that they’d have plausible deniability, by claiming it just reflects the name of the two companies.

Bottom line

Air India chose an interesting registration code with its new livery launch. While some claim it just reflects the (intentionally modified) initials of the two companies, I think the real intent is pretty clear.

Where do you stand — is this an intentional dig, or an honest mistake?

Conversations (59)
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  1. AI Guest

    These are flag carriers. And it is not the same thing as condemning, for example, British Airways out of hand for being British Airways, independent of any geopolitical, economic or sectarian beef. United and Quantas otherwise in the same category of shame.

    I haven't had a chance to evaluate Air India's product.

  2. Vijay Guest

    Air India has the right to give all the Indian passengers and other international passengers a world class experience. now globally India is the most populous country in the world. Best of Luck

    1. topflite787 Guest

      I think Air India used this as an opportunity to have a little fun, and to bring a smile to people's faces.
      As you rightly pointed out, this sometimes happens. Indeed, it brings to mind an airline in 2010, which facing challenges over approval for additional flights to Canada, advertised its route to Seattle as a gateway to Canada.

  3. Joe Maune Guest

    It is indeed insulting and condescending as it purposes is to give a direct message to its rival. AI could have choosen a different registration number. But just leave this sour note and let us focus on what AI can really showcase. Can they deliver a stellar product and beating its nemesis the EK EY and QR.
    I am waiting for this new seats new catering new amenities and new airport experiences. These what matter most.

  4. Bhavin Vyas Guest

    I. Suppose "F" Stands for FRENCH registered Aircrafts??...And that is an A350??... May be yet not got the INDIAN REGISTEATION...??

  5. Mohan Guest

    They could have done with a better logo, this pattern reflects to now a days design such as Emirate , Qatar or Ethiad. And what a choice of interior color reminds me of a Budjet carrier instead they could have used a combination of colors as the tail.
    Most sincerely I hope the service and the attitude changes,to make it to the top.

  6. Jared Guest

    However, F-UBAI is pretty much how I would sum up my thoughts on Dubai.

  7. Jared Guest

    Genius! A slow news cycle yet OMAAT manages four articles from a single public announcement!

  8. Kent Guest

    Much ado about nothing, Ben. But any good article is one that pulls in the readers so good job.

  9. KM Guest

    Fubai means “corruption” in Chinese.

    https://www.weekinchina.com/2012/06/fubai/

  10. Turyatunga Emmanuel Guest

    My question is about it's payment system of the plane.t

  11. Ash Guest

    The Air India of the new management are no holy souls with integrity as expected of the conglomerate that owns it. The visible outcome is exactly as is being analysed by the public. It certainly doesn't have the Indian ethos. This is crass commercialism.

  12. AJAY Guest

    If we ignore, this advertisement is normal, but if we dig, then as an Archeologist, we can excavate many new items.

  13. GLCTraveler Gold

    F-DBX would have been more direct!! Hahaha

    Belly Logo style is used by many airlines..... Emirates may have been first, but many have followed.

  14. Padmanabhan Guest

    The Indian politicians who obliged foreigners to sabotage our national airline should be exposed and banc
    krupted as a lesson to all concerned.

    1. FlyingTiger Guest

      It's not a national anymore - it's private and let it be run like private
      Once we attach the sentiment and nationalism, we drag most of things to garbage and still stays attached

  15. TheAirlineKid Guest

    Did I mistakenly open Fox News or is this still OMAAT?

  16. Brianair Guest

    F*CK DUBAI.

    This is done on purpose. It’s the new Air India being determined to get back at Emirates after they spent decades taking much of the traffic to and from India away from them. And a “F U” to Dubai for working many of their country’s expats to death just to build those fake, glitzy tourist attractions and condo towers. It’s that simple.

  17. Suvan Dural Jha Guest

    It is just short for Future Brands (the company that undertook Air India’s rebranding) and Air India hence F-UBAI. There is no other angle

  18. RD Thakur Guest

    The new livery and logo is not better than the old one.

  19. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Whether the message was intentional or not, and I tend to think that Ben's assessment is correct, Emirates can't help but realize that its fortunes will be changing as India wants to take back as much of the business that EK has enjoyed for years.
    Throw in the growth of other airlines in the Middle East /Turkey/ Ethiopia, the luster around EK is certain to change.

    1. Sarthak Guest

      I’m super curious to know what happens to the gigantic line up of A380s once EK starts phasing them out. India is perhaps the only market where you could have justified an Indian airline like Indigo leasing some of them to expand their footprint internationally. But even then I think EK’s fleet is perhaps too premium heavy. Looks like they’ll eventually be headed for Victorville.

  20. Lefteris Guest

    This registration is so clever. An A350 destined for AI would have an F- registration while in Toulouse.

  21. chk Guest

    Sigh…..another F*** - Up By Air India

  22. Doug N. Guest

    F-UBAI is short for Flight U to Dubai. That's all.

  23. Srini Rao Guest

    I'm sorry Lucky.. this is purely a coincidence. They have no intention of offending anyone and it's not in the culture to do such stupid things. its as others have pointed out..sheer stupidity which happens all the time with marketing in India.

  24. JC Guest

    Rebrand all you want, India! I’d never fly your airline.

    1. Kent Guest

      That’s okay. I don’t think anyone would miss you.

  25. Barry Guest

    All is fun and games with this until someone in Dubai files a complaint with the public prosecutor asserting this as an obsenity laden attack. These type of complaints are taken very seriously in the UAE and the persons responsible for this could find themselves imprisoned if travelling to or through the UAE.

  26. Jay Guest

    And of course bai is lady in Indian……. Oh dear. That’s not any better then.

    1. AnishReddi Member

      I’m as also fluent in Indian, where do you learn it? I learnt it in London while eating lots of Chicken Tikka masala ;).

    2. JB Guest

      "Bhai" means brother in Hindi. "Bai" does not mean lady (I don't know if it means anything at all in Hindi).

    3. Kaamwalibai Guest

      Then you don't speak Hindi from Mumbai

    4. Ole Guest

      It does…to be precise it means a maid.

    5. Gaurav Community Ambassador

      Maid is just one possible messing.

      "Bai is a term used widely across India but conveys different meanings.

      Among other meanings, Bai is generally the address used for a female maid servant.

      It is, however, also a respectful suffix for females (mainly Royal). Eg. Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jodhaa Bai.

      (At least) in Rajasthan, Bai Ji is often used as an address for women (especially in villages).

      In Marathi (especially villages), Bai is also used for...

      Maid is just one possible messing.

      "Bai is a term used widely across India but conveys different meanings.

      Among other meanings, Bai is generally the address used for a female maid servant.

      It is, however, also a respectful suffix for females (mainly Royal). Eg. Rani Lakshmi Bai, Jodhaa Bai.

      (At least) in Rajasthan, Bai Ji is often used as an address for women (especially in villages).

      In Marathi (especially villages), Bai is also used for a School Teacher, and is respectful."

      https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/hindi-bai.1198225/

    6. JB Guest

      I stand corrected.

      This makes the "mistake" even worse though.

  27. Chris W Guest

    Geez you yanked that original headline pretty quickly Ben!

  28. Indian peeing scorpian Guest

    In Related News: UAE has decided to send All 2 million Indian Expatriates Back to India,Thus causing Huge Financial Loss to the Indian Government.

    1. Sarthak Guest

      Lol…UAE will fall like a pack of cards without foreign workers.

  29. Suren Guest

    I don't think it's any type coincidence. Aircraft manufacturers uses F- registration codes before they fly for the final testing and before delivery. As an example, Airbus has used F-WZFZ as registration code before they take a test flight from Toulouse. I assume this is another A350-900 temp registration code which is yet to be delivered to Air India.

  30. Icarus Guest

    F is the registration for France
    VT is India from Victorian or Viceroy Territory. You would think people would be up in arms about that.

    1. Sean M. Diamond

      This is an urban legend. VT- does not stand for Viceroy Territory or anything similar.

      VT- was the allocated code for India just like VH- is for Australia, VP- for Bermuda etc.. It stands for nothing and was allocated in 1928 at the International Radiotelegraphic Convention in Washington DC. Prior to 1928, Indian aircraft were registered as G-Ixxx under the same registry as the United Kingdom.

      ICAO Annex 7 has a foreword that discusses the...

      This is an urban legend. VT- does not stand for Viceroy Territory or anything similar.

      VT- was the allocated code for India just like VH- is for Australia, VP- for Bermuda etc.. It stands for nothing and was allocated in 1928 at the International Radiotelegraphic Convention in Washington DC. Prior to 1928, Indian aircraft were registered as G-Ixxx under the same registry as the United Kingdom.

      ICAO Annex 7 has a foreword that discusses the history of registration markings dating back to the 1912 Paris Conference all the way up to the formation of ICAO in 1947 and adoption of current regulations in 1949.

  31. WouldntFlyAirIndia Guest

    Interestingly the belly is painted the with the branding the exact same way Emirates does it. What a cheap snub. Air India forgets that UAE can revoke their seat allocation, deprioritize their planes (We have SO many heavy planes inbound, you need to land at the other airport or do some circles, this is why I wouldn't fly an Indian airline to Dubai regardless). What could have been a sincere chance to design something new...

    Interestingly the belly is painted the with the branding the exact same way Emirates does it. What a cheap snub. Air India forgets that UAE can revoke their seat allocation, deprioritize their planes (We have SO many heavy planes inbound, you need to land at the other airport or do some circles, this is why I wouldn't fly an Indian airline to Dubai regardless). What could have been a sincere chance to design something new and world-class has seemed to obsess over a single competitor that they're unlikely to lose market share to given the massive difference in product quality between the two.

    1. Wanker Guest

      Your mom actually named you that?

  32. TravelinWilly Diamond

    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

    -Hanlon's razor

  33. Pran Sathiadasan Guest

    I think it's just an innocent byplay of words from the creators of the brand combining it with AI. But nice attempt by One Mile at a time to insinuate things and a controversy where none exists. Having said that, the livery is just plain weird... nothing of aviation, nothing of the former Air India, nothing of the Tatas... just a Holi come early scheme.

  34. James Jha Guest

    There's no way AI would start beef with Dubai lol. It's simply a demo registration made by FutureBrands by emerging the company name with Air India.

  35. Ray Guest

    Hard to take it as such, but also entirely plausible. Hard because Indians (and other South Asian folks) idolise Dubai for precisely the reasons I detest it: the ostentatious displays of wealth & financial status.

    Can’t say I blame them when many of their people were involved in building it

  36. Nik Guest

    F-UB means Future brand, who designed the logo and AI stands for Air India. Dont think its an attack.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Nik -- Ahhhh, so that's their plausible deniability excuse then. ;-) C'mon, you can't honestly think that this was the intent? Why does "future" get two letters then?

    2. Sean M. Diamond

      @Ben - that's exactly where it came from. Zero intent to throw shade, especially given that Dubai is Air India's largest overseas destination!

    3. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Sean M. -- How do the letters make sense? "Future" gets two letters and "brand" gets one? And when they saw it, they didn't consider what it would logically be interpreted as?

    4. Sean M. Diamond

      The whole livery rollout (as opposed to the corporate film and logo parts) was very shoddy. They even projected the tailfin backwards (so Airbus was written as SUBRIA and the registration is shown as IABU-F) during the unveiling event! If they couldn't pick that up, they sure as hell didn't read subliminal shade throwing into the registration!

    5. WouldntFlyAirIndia Guest

      Why is their biggest destination the one with such tight seats-per-week constraints? Shouldn't they focus more on destinations where India has Open Skies agreements?

    6. Sean M. Diamond

      That's a bit counter intuitive.

      "More people want to fly to Dubai, so we should fly to Tblisi instead because there is open skies"?

  37. JB Guest

    I did not expect that!

    Someone is getting fired...

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Sean M. Diamond

This is an urban legend. VT- does not stand for Viceroy Territory or anything similar. VT- was the allocated code for India just like VH- is for Australia, VP- for Bermuda etc.. It stands for nothing and was allocated in 1928 at the International Radiotelegraphic Convention in Washington DC. Prior to 1928, Indian aircraft were registered as G-Ixxx under the same registry as the United Kingdom. ICAO Annex 7 has a foreword that discusses the history of registration markings dating back to the 1912 Paris Conference all the way up to the formation of ICAO in 1947 and adoption of current regulations in 1949.

6
Sean M. Diamond

The whole livery rollout (as opposed to the corporate film and logo parts) was very shoddy. They even projected the tailfin backwards (so Airbus was written as SUBRIA and the registration is shown as IABU-F) during the unveiling event! If they couldn't pick that up, they sure as hell didn't read subliminal shade throwing into the registration!

5
Tim Dunn Diamond

Whether the message was intentional or not, and I tend to think that Ben's assessment is correct, Emirates can't help but realize that its fortunes will be changing as India wants to take back as much of the business that EK has enjoyed for years. Throw in the growth of other airlines in the Middle East /Turkey/ Ethiopia, the luster around EK is certain to change.

3
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