Sometimes a livery just catches your eye, and that was certainly the case when a fluffy duckling appeared on the tail of an A320neo at Airbus’ Delivery Center in Toulouse. Today, the duck has left the airport, starting out on an epic journey to the other side of the world. JetSmart in Chile awaits the arrival of our feathered friend.
The duck has left Toulouse
There’s always something interesting to see at the Airbus Delivery Center in Toulouse. From smart new widebodies to the smiling face of the Beluga XL, it’s a hive of colorful tails and liveries. But one tail, in particular, caught our eye, and that belonged to an A320neo painted up for JetSmart.
— Aviation Toulouse (@Frenchpainter) January 21, 2021
Today, the duck has taken flight, heading to its new owner in South America. The A320neo, registered CC-AWP, took off at around 13:35 local time, but rather than heading south towards Chile, has been flying north since it departed. The A320neo, while a very efficient aircraft, does not have the range to fly direct to Chile from Toulouse.
While the exact route will have to wait to be revealed, it’s likely heading across the North Atlantic initially, and may well stop in Iceland for refueling on the way. It could just about make it to the east coast of Canada, but we’ll have to wait and see.
The aircraft will likely need at least one more stop on route to JetSmart’s home in Santiago, so it may arrive tomorrow, or perhaps even Thursday. Regardless of its arrival date, the duck plane has definitely left the building and is winging its way around the globe to its new home in South America.
JetSmart has a fleet of seven A320neo already in service, which began arriving in October 2019. With the duck plane taking it to eight, JetSmart will be looking forward to another 47 of the type arriving over the coming years. It is also anticipating delivery of the A321neo, hopefully this year, and has orders in for 12 of Airbus’ long-range narrowbody, the A321XLR.
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Why a duck?
JetSmart is a relatively new low-cost carrier, launched in 2017 but with the backing of one of the most prolific aviation investment companies worldwide. Its parent company is Indigo Partners, a US private equity firm with a controlling interest in several successful airlines.
Co-founded by Bill Franke, its stable includes the European low-cost giant Wizz Air, Mexico’s Volaris and the United States low-cost airline Frontier. Fans of cheap flying will already be well versed in the glorious animal tails of Frontier’s jets, and JetSmart is heading in the same direction.
Each of its A320s has a colorful animal adorning its tail. Mostly these are birds, ranging from the powerful Peregrine Falcon to the agile Ringed Kingfisher. However, some aircraft also feature fur rather than feathers, with a Jaguar, Puma and even a Culpeo Fox on some of its aircraft.
Most of these animals have a lovely tale to tell. For example, the Peregrine Falcon tail was chosen because,
Just like the Peregrine Falcon, the world’s fastest bird, the Airbus reaches this amazing speed in a natural and effortless way, and then takes off to offer a calm and comfortable flight.
However, the duckling doesn’t seem to have quite such a heartwarming story to tell. The ‘patito’, it seems, is the mascot of the Chilean BancoEstado, or state bank. A careful inspection also reveals the logo of the bank in the top corner of the tail.
Since early last year, the bank has partnered with JetSmart to allow passengers to access benefits when traveling. This includes points accrual, seat selection, priority boarding and more, with the main benefits directed at users of its credit card.
Nevertheless, it’s a very cute duck, and a nice shiny new neo for JetSmart as well.