Airline Reveals Tartan-Clad Plane

Cabin crew sport tartan scarves in front of easyJet's new tartan-clad plane

Cabin crew sport tartan scarves in front of easyJet’s new tartan-clad plane

A distinctive orange and black tartan-clad aircraft has been unveiled to mark a new early morning flight from Inverness to London Gatwick. Budget airline EasyJet launched the tartan today entitled “Highland aircraft” on its Airbus A319 aircraft, alongside a kilt and scarf sported by cabin crew on its inaugural 6:40am service.

However the kilt is not set to become part of regular cabin crew uniforms, and will only be used for special occasions. The design is the first tartan to be officially registered by the Scottish Register of Tartans since records began six years ago.

Reaction to the tartan has been mixed, with some design experts calling the launch an appropriate way for the airline to mark its commitment to Scotland. Design expert Susanna Freedman, head of brand at design firm Emperor said: “Tartan is such an iconic textile, and employed with consideration – as part of an overall design scheme – can add real impact and authenticity.

“I hope we see a ‘less is more’ approach – or innovative execution in its use – that fits with easyJet’s brand positioning, rather than it appearing as a superficial ‘bolt on’ to current easyJet apparel.”

Richard Havers, a former British Caledonian general manager for Europe, admires easyJet’s idea but not its design. Tartan-clad cabin crew is most famously associated with now-defunct British Caledonian and its predecessor Caledonia Airways. Staff wore a range of tartans from the 1960s until its takeover by British Airways in 1988.

He said: “It’s quite a clever idea, but a bit of a dubious tartan. Making up a tartan is a cheap trick. Sir Adam Thomson [British Caledonian’s founder and chairman] would be turning in his grave.

“British Caledonian used about 30 tartans, but none were designed for the airline, that would have been against its ethos. It would have felt it was not the right thing to do.”

Mr Havers said both cabin crew and check-in staff had chosen which tartan to wear.

He added: “Most based their choice on their hair colour, with blondes picking green tartans and those with dark hair going for red ones.”

The former airline executive said tartan had been part of British Caledonian’s brand image, which was the “total antithesis” to easyJet’s. He said: “It was an era when flying was more glamorous – passengers wore jackets and ties.”

Mr Havers said it was a “pity” easyJet appeared to be using the tartan as a publicity stunt.


About Nadine Lee

Originally from New Zealand, Nadine is a documentary researcher now based in the north east of Scotland.

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