American to Paint 737 in Trump Shuttle Retro Livery

American, April Fools

Not only do you get a Wednesday post this week, but you get a Saturday one as well. I just didn’t want to sit on this one until Monday.

When America West and US Airways merged, the airlines developed a nice nod to the past by creating heritage jets, single airplanes which would be painted in the retro colors of the airlines that came before them. The tradition carried over to American once it merged with US Airways, and now American has decided to add one more to the collection. Get ready for a Trump Shuttle 737.

The airlines that receive the royal treatment are those that were directly merged into either USAir/US Airways or American. That meant America West, Allegheny, Piedmont, PSA, TWA, AirCal, Reno Air, and of course, US Airways (after the merger into American) each had an airplane. I assume an arbitrary line was drawn around deregulation, because airlines like Trans Caribbean (which American acquired) and Lake Central and Mohawk (which went into USAir-predecessor Allegheny) were left out. But there was one that was acquired post-deregulation that didn’t make the cut: Trump Shuttle.

Technically, this was a complex acquisition. It took barely a year from when Trump drastically overpaid for the old Eastern Shuttle in 1989 before he had defaulted on the loans. The banks took over and tried to sell the prized shuttle off, but there were no takers. The creditors ultimately came to an agreement with USAir where the airline would buy 40 percent of the company and manage the whole thing, marketing it under the USAir Shuttle name. USAir had the exclusive option to buy the rest of what was then “Shuttle, Inc.” starting in 1996. It bought it outright in 1997 but continued to run it technically as a separate company until 2000 when it finally merged the airline into the parent. After the American merger, it became the American Airlines Shuttle.

That may be complex, but it was still an acquisition by USAir. Maybe it was the small footprint, only flying Boston to New York to Washington, that kept it out of the retro club in the beginning, but this oversight is now going to be rectified. I understand the livery has been adapted to the 737-800 by renowned aircraft livery designer Mark Ahasic. I’ve been able to get a copy of his drawings.

I know, I know. It’s no 727 (which the Trump Shuttle actually flew), but that obviously wasn’t an option since there are none left in the fleet. That may not be a bad thing anyway.

I asked Henry Harteveldt, Trump Shuttle’s first marketing director and now an industry analyst, whether he was excited about seeing his former brand back in the air. After a pause, he simply said “At least American won’t have to put carpeting on the rear stairs of 727s, like we had to do. We just loved having our maintenance guys walk up and down those in the snowy winters.”

With Trump becoming President earlier this year, the timing seemed awfully suspicious for this to be a coincidence, so I asked American directly why this was happening now. A spokesperson provided this quote from CEO Doug Parker. “As usual, the pilots were totally right. When I skipped the meeting between airline CEOs and President Trump back in February so I could attend our Annual Leadership Conference, I didn’t realize that it would mean all of our priorities would be pushed to the backburner. We decided there would be no better way to apologize than to paint an airplane to honor the President’s remarkable legacy as a pioneering airline executive.”

American had planned to take this even further by outfitting the interior in the original design specs, one that never came to fruition on Trump Shuttle itself. That opulent design included a marble sink fixture in the lav. But once American realized that the original design was Ivana Trump’s idea and not the President’s, it discarded that plan. The aircraft will, however, have one interior modification: a single gold-covered First Class seat which will be reserved for a very special guest….

The unveiling is expected on Monday at West Palm Beach Airport. It will primarily fly the LaGuardia to Palm Beach route, providing the First Lady Melania Trump a way to continue to avoid Washington at all costs while shuttling between her homes. American has also announced it will hire out-of-work coal miners to fly the aircraft indefinitely.

This move appears to be paying dividends already. I’m told American first approached the Trump Administration about its plans on March 20. The next day, the ban on large electronics was announced, providing a blow to several carriers about which American has been critical, including Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar. American, alongside Delta and United, has been trying to get the government to act to prevent the Middle East carriers from growing for years, and I understand a renewed effort will be launched shortly.

I asked the Trump White House for comment, and I was given a terse statement in all caps. “FAKE NEWS. TOTALLY FAKE.”

It almost never happens, but in this case, the White House spoke the truth. Happy April Fools’ Day everyone!

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47 comments on “American to Paint 737 in Trump Shuttle Retro Livery

  1. You (and American) have forgotten one former airline: Empire, which was later acquired by Piedmont shortly before the US Air merger. Empire had become very popular in Upstate NY. in the early 80s.

    1. Hardwich – Well, I remembered hearing Doug Parker say it was only airlines that were directly merged into USAir/US Airways or American. To me that left Allegheny as a little fuzzy since technically it WAS USAir before the name change. That’s why Mohawk and Lake Central seemed questionable. But since Empire went into Piedmont, that definitely would have been left off.

  2. I totally bought it until the coal miners! In my defense, i haven’t had my coffee yet. Well done

    1. john96: me too, although “(DJT’s) remarkable legacy as a pioneering airline executive” did not seem to be anything anyone (but DJT) would say. I’m so glad it was an April Fool’s joke (an entirely appropriate! one, I daresay)!

  3. Thanks for the news. By the way, I’ve got the title deed to the Indiana Toll Road. I’m looking to sell it cheap! Want to buy?


  4. Sweet – I knew this was coming; well done and best wishes to you for a great April 1st.


  5. This had me going until you quoted Doug Parker’s comment about the pilots, but still wasn’t sure that this was fake news until you got to the coal miners.  Best April’s fool joke ever!  Thanks Howie 

  6. I should remind you, Brett, that it is the America West corporation that acquired US Airways and now American. As a personal confirmation of this, my good friend Michael Roach has a lifetime positive space pass on American as a co-founder, along with Ed Beauvais I presume. In the same misconception applies to United. Continental bought United, not the other way round.
    Phil Roberts

    1. It’s like people think Sears bought Kmart when it was Kmart who bought Sears and just used Sears Holdings as the company parent name.

  7. Priceless. Henry was Director of Marketing while I was Director of Sales at TB. My favorite comment is the nod to the (bad) idea of using real marble in the lavs. That happened. Thanks for this gem.

  8. The part about Melania Trump flying commercial was the give away. Not sure when she last flew commercial but it will certainly not happen in her lifetime.
    Other than waiting for Presidential and First Family One ATC reroutes, the article and all about it is fun for all.

  9. Always look forward to the April 1st blogs to see what you will come up with, and this one was a good one.

  10. Herb to Colleen to Gary

    Guys, SOUTHWEST needs to fly AN-124s on our Dallas-Houston shuttles….
    Marketing! Get us a new promo:


    Our Worlds Second-Most Interesting Man ® aka A Kindred Soul

  11. Well played. Helps that Australia is ahead in the time zones so we’ve already had a million April Fools stories. But still, those “quotes” are gold.

  12. Thank you, and as with last year I still made it a good few paragraphs thinking “oh my this can’t be real” until realizing it’s cranky and April 1. Always enjoyable :)

  13. What gave it away was “the President’s remarkable legacy as an airline executive.”

    Depends on how you define remarkable, I guess.

  14. Had to read a couple of the earlier sentences twice — this fact alone should have tipped me that something funny was going on — but the jig was up at the line about the coal miners.

    We’re all so gullible because your posts — concerning interesting and often important topics I don’t see covered anywhere else — on any of the other 364 days a year are so timely, pertinent, accurate, comprehensive, and full of unique info and insights.

    Thank you, Brett. No foolin’.

  15. Glad this T Shuttle is FAKE NEWS

    In real world, American really should do a Heritage Aircraft in Ozark’s Final Paint Scheme. After all they’re part of American via TWA

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