Do passengers care about the paint job on airplanes? Maybe not.
But new American Airlines CEO Doug Parker thinks his employees do, and he's letting 100,000 workers at the recently merged US Airways-American decide what the airplanes will look like.
The choices: Keep the bright flag design announced by American's former top brass in January, or go back to American's traditional AA-with-an-eagle logo for the tail of the planes. Employees have until noon Jan. 2 to vote.
"While I enjoy debating the merits of certain aircraft liveries, I have always believed they are not particularly important to the success of an airline," Parker said in a memo to employees. "For our team members who work in, around, and on these aircraft day in and day out, it matters a great deal, but I have yet to find a customer who based their purchase decision on the exterior design of the airplane."
Parker said he has heard from employees who miss the old AA/eagle logo.
"As someone who began working at American in 1986, I, like many of you, am fond of the AA and think it reflects the proud history of this airline. But I also think the new branding looks great. It is bold, professional, fresh."
The design should represent the American brand well, be professional, and be cost-efficient, he said.
"So, it is up to you. I just ask that we get it done quickly, so we can start painting" more than 620 US Airways and US Airways Express aircraft.
Two unions representing flight attendants and pilots said they were glad Parker wanted employees to weigh in.
"It may not make a difference to our passengers, but it does seem to matter to many of our employees," said Leslie Mayo, spokeswoman for the Association of Professional Flight Attendants.
"We are pleased and encouraged to see management ask for employee input for this decision," said Dennis Tajer, spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, "and hope to see that continue."
The new American - which will be the dominant airline in Philadelphia - will continue the latter's tradition of keeping a few vintage designs on aircraft, Parker said, including those of predecessor companies PSA Airlines, TWA, and a heritage American polished-silver livery.
No matter the vote, the AA and the eagle will stay represented in the fleet, the memo said.