Some airlines are marking milestones by marking up their airplanes with special designs

Hello Kitty and other Sanrio Family characters adorn EVA Air’s newest themed jet, Joyful Dream.
Source: EVA Air

Like decorative or commemorative T-shirts, elaborate airplane paint are like giant ads that promote airline brands or mark special occasions. These so-called "liveries" have a host of unique designs, and CNBC recently took a look at some of the new versions flying the friendly skies.

The newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for Sydney, Australia-based Qantas features artwork honoring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Source: Qantas

Qantas goes dotty

The newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner for Sydney, Australia-based Qantas is covered in a unique design based on "Yam Dreaming," a painting by the late indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

The bold red and white livery features close to 5000 dots, and is only the second time in the airline's history that its iconic flying kangaroo (always on the aircraft tail) has been changed to become part of a special painted design.

New aircraft livery - minus the traditional yellow coloring - is part of Lufthansa's new, modernized brand image revealed on February 7.
Source: Lufthansa

Lufthansa rebrands for the digital age

A new livery – the first in almost thirty years – is a major piece of a larger brand update German flag carrier Lufthansa revealed on February 7.

"Against the backdrop of digitalization and changing customer requirements, Lufthansa recognized that the company needed to modernize the aircraft appearance in order to remain up to date," the airline said a statement.

Displayed first on a Boeing 747-8 and an Airbus A321, the new paint scheme no longer features any of Lufthansa's well-worn yellow, but instead focuses instead on a simpler blue-and-white design. The new livery does keep the carrier's signature crane on the tail, but with a thinner ring that the airline says makes it look more elegant, and gives it more space.

United Airlines retired it last Boeing 747 aircraft in November 2017 with a special 'retro' flight to Honolulu.
Harriet Baskas | CNBC

United Airlines looks forward with a look back

In November, United Airlines retired its last Boeing 747 passenger aircraft. The company gave the iconic humped jumbo jet, known at the "Queen of the Skies," a special send-off. A 'retro' flight re-enacted the airline's first 747 commercial flight from San Francisco to Honolulu on July 23, 1970. The flight included Mai Tais and other food and drinks featured on the 1970's era in-flight menu, and a special livery featuring the "Friend Ship" design used on the jet's first flight.

KLM created a special farewell livery bearing a portrait of aircraft manufacturer Anthony Fokker for the final phase out of the carriers use of Fokker 70 aircraft.
Source: KLM

KLM says farewell to its Fokkers

Airlines replace and retire aircraft all the time, but when Dutch carrier KLM retired the last Fokker aircraft in its Cityhopper fleet last October, the good-bye was especially bittersweet. That's because Fokker, the Dutch aircraft manufacturer that made the planes KLM first flew when the airline was formed 97 years ago, has always had been a staple of the airline.

To honor the long partnership, last year KLM applied a special livery featuring the portrait of aviation pioneer and airplane manufacturer Anthony Fokker to an aircraft that it retired on October 28.

In December 2017 Air France launched "Joon," an airline aimed at serving "millennials whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology."
Source: Air France

Air France launches jaunty Joon

To battle the ultra-low-cost carriers that have been nibbling away at its market share, in Paris-based Air France recently introduced a new airline called Joon. The carrier is using it to target is young and always-connected "millennials whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology."

By summer 2018, Joon will be flying from Paris to 13 short and long-haul destinations. In addition to YouJoon, an inflight streaming system that passengers can access on their smartphones, laptops or tablets, Joon's hopes to signal it hipness with a visual identity that has at its core an electric blue color featured in crew uniforms and in the airline's livery.