The Meaning Behind Air Tahiti Nui’s Livery

I like a good-looking airplane as much as the next guy, but I’m also usually strongly against complex and expensive designs. (For further study: my hatred for American’s livery.) That being said, every so often, a stunning, complex design with real meaning comes out and find myself smitten. Air Tahiti Nui’s new livery falls into that category.

Air Tahiti Nui rolled out its new livery when it took delivery of its first 787. You might say “hey, this doesn’t look all that much different than the last livery on the A340…”

… and you would be right. It’s really a refined version of the original. And while complexity has been added, it’s all been done to both modernize the old livery and to add more meaning into the design itself.

You may all know this already, but I was surprised to learn just how much symbolism is involved.

The two red (and now narrower) stripes on the bottom of the fuselage honor the flag of French Polynesia.

I didn’t even know French Polynesia had its own flag.

Then on the tail, there is the trademark white tiare flower. The way Air Tahiti Nui describes it, the tiare is meant to carry “us into the future while being a proud reminder of our past.”

But the most complex piece is the addition of all those designs on the back half of the fuselage. On the A340 it was just a different shade of blue, but on the 787 it’s an intricate story being told through the “tattoos” that are on the aircraft. I’ll let this image explain what each one means.

The finishing touch? The aircraft tail numbers also put together a story. There will be four 787s in the fleet, and they will be registered F-OMUA (named Moorea), F-ONUI (named Bora Bora), F-OVAA (named Rangiroa), and F-OTOA (named Nuku Hiva). The names are after four of the larger population centers in French Polynesia, but what’s with the random registrations?

The last three letters of those registrations are Tahitian words.

  • MUA – forward
  • NUI – big
  • VAA – canoe
  • TOA – warrior

This comes together to form the sentence, “The warrior (TOA) going forward (MUA) in the great (NUI) canoe (VAA).”

Many believe that the livery matters most to the employees of the airline. If that’s the case, then all these proud, hidden meanings are bound to appeal to those who see the fleet every day. Well done, Air Tahiti Nui.

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