(CNN) — As the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches the four-month mark, one airline has announced plans to change its livery amid fears from passengers that its current appearance may indicate it supports the invasion.
Tokyo-based Zipair, JAL’s low-cost subsidiary Japan Airlines, has announced that it will be removing the “Z” from its tail fins starting June 18, replacing them with a geometric stripe pattern.
The redesign was originally planned as a pre-invasion update to mark Japan’s easing of travel restrictions due to the pandemic, and was unveiled at a press conference announcing the airline’s new route from Tokyo to San Jose, California.
The new Zipair design will be launched immediately.
However, Shingo Nishida, president of Zipair, told a press conference that Zipair customers had already contacted the airline, expressing their concerns about the airline’s existing logo, which has been in use since 2018.
Russia used “Z” to represent a supposed victory during an invasion. The letter was painted on tanks and uniforms on the ground, and those who support the Kremlin used it to declare their support.
“I think some people might feel the same way when they see it without any explanation,” Nishida said.
A spokesperson for Zippair told CNN: “We can confirm that we have received a number of customer comments regarding their attitude towards the design of the current livery. As a public transport company, we are aware that the letter in question has been featured on various media channels globally and how the design can be viewed negatively.
“While customers acknowledged and understood that our logo was created in 2018 before the current situation, they shared their concerns to show support for the airline.
“Our president is interested in the feelings of the clients and really reads the general comments of the clients, which is part of his routine.”
The airline is taking urgent action to switch to the new livery. Instead of gradually repainting the Zipair fleet, tail fins will be covered with decals from June 18th. The aircraft will then be gradually repainted starting in December 2022 and ending in spring 2023.
The spokesperson continued: “As several countries, including Japan, begin to open borders to travel, Zipair has made the decision to update our livery to demonstrate our commitment that a low-cost option for long-haul international flights is possible and through the introduction of updated livery, the carrier is committed to providing services that meet the needs of various customer groups around the world.
“We believe that in order for an airline to remain viable in a highly competitive industry, we must continue to adapt to change and that is why we have made the decision to introduce the new livery.”
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