Delta reveals Olympics livery as it takes official Team USA sponsorship from United
So long to the friendly skies; now it's time to keep climbing.
After almost 40 years of flying United Airlines, the U.S. Olympics team passed the torch to Delta Air Lines for at least the next eight years, a deal reportedly worth $400 million.
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With fewer than 50 days until the 2022 Olympics begin in Beijing, Delta kicked off its new charter mission by revealing an Airbus A330-900 with a special Olympics-themed livery on Friday.
The airline held a ceremony and livery reveal at its Atlanta Tech Ops base, which was attended by past and present Olympians and Paralympians, as well as Delta employees, CEO Ed Bastian, and crews from NBC's Today Show, which broadcast the event live.
Hosted by past Olympians Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, the event was an early one to coincide with the Today Show broadcast, kicking off just before 8 a.m.
The event also featured a panel discussion with Olympians Vonetta Flowers, Amber Glenn and Apollo Ohno, as well as Paralympians Dan Cnossen and Mallory Weggemann.
Delta employees were invited, although only a limited number were able to attend due to space. Still, the crowd was full of Olympics fans.
After a short video showing a time-lapse of the painting process, the hangar door was opened and a curtain was opened, finally revealing the livery (thanks to a logistical change in the event, some of the guests had already seen the aircraft as they arrived, but still, who doesn't love a dramatic reveal?).
Being the first year of the partnership, Delta decided to go with something bold, rather than a subtle or understated design.
In person, the Team USA plane — an Airbus A330neo — looked undeniably sharp. It was designed by Shane Edwards, who is Delta's product and experimental design manager. Edwards worked with the in-house creative team at Delta — known as Window Seat — rather than outsourcing to a design firm.
"The team opted for a clean, classic design to promote the partnership between Team USA and Delta," Edwards said in a statement. "The Team USA logo is prominently featured, along with a blue gradient that represents the sky and 'rise to the top; with a grounding red element representing the resilience needed to get there."
Inside, the plane looks like any other A330-900 — the one exception was small towels custom-printed for the sponsorship that the airline put on each headrest instead of the usual cloth.
It features 29 business class seats — the latest Delta One suites with sliding doors — as well as 28 premium economy seats in the "Premium Select" cabin. There are 224 coach seats, including 56 extra-legroom Delta Comfort+ seats.
It may not be the actual plane to carry the Olympians — that will likely be a larger Airbus A350, a Delta spokesperson said during the event.
Instead, you can catch the plane flying on transatlantic and transpacific routes starting on Dec. 18. Delta plans to use the A330neo to replace its less-efficient Boeing 767s, the airline said.
More: A Suite Ride to China: Delta One on the Brand-New A330-900neo
The partnership between Delta and Team USA is set to cover Beijing 2022, Paris 2024, Milano Cortina 2026 and Los Angeles 2028, but could always be extended. Who knows; maybe the next 40 years will belong to Delta.