OEMs releasing sportbikes in the MotoGP or WSBK liveries of specific top racers instead of standard colorways isn’t a particularly new or surprising development. One thing you don’t see every day, however, is an airline putting the names of racers on its nice, new fleet of Airbus airliners. That’s exactly what’s happening over in Italy, though, and it’s pretty rad.
ITA Airways is a carrier that began operating in 2021. For those unfamiliar, it arose after the unfortunate demise of Alitalia. Somewhere along the way, ITA Airways decided to honor great Italian sports champions across all areas of sport by putting the names of said sports champions on their shiny new planes. The first batch was small, consisting of cyclist Gino Bartali, cyclist Fausto Coppi, sprinter and Olympic gold medalist Pietro Mennea, and footballer Paolo Rossi.
To choose the next batch, ITA Airways conducted a survey on its social media, asking the public which Italian sports legends should be honored next. When the results came in, the public chose 22 new athletes, all of whom are no longer competing in their respective sports. Among these, three legends of motorcycle racing were nominated: Giacomo Agostini, Valentino Rossi, and Marco Simoncelli.
Each of these aircraft is painted in ITA’s handsome blue and white livery with the Italian tricolor proudly displayed on the vertical stabilizer. The names of those athletes for whom the planes are named are painted just below and forward of the aircraft’s forwardmost port door. (Hatch? Is it a door or a hatch on an airliner? –JM) While it would be cool if the planes were painted in custom liveries that reflected the sports and careers of their namesakes, that’s sadly not the case.
On April 20, 2022, Valentino Rossi posted photos of the plane that bears his name, sharing his joy at the sight on his Facebook page. The translation reads, “So nice to see my name on your plane! Happy to be part of the Blue Legends of ITA Airways. Thank you, #itaairways “
While the plane being painted in this video isn’t one dedicated to a motorcyclist, you can still get some good insight into the process of painting an ITA Airways plane. Would you like to fly on a plane named for one of these racers if you have the chance?