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?

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