The downgrading of the distinctive symbol to advertise the growing Internet booking site, aerlingus.com, on four Boeing 737s came as many in the country were pinning on bunches of shamrock to celebrate the St Patrick’s week festivities.
The shamrock remains in more miniature form on the engines.
“We are not rebranding our fleet. We are very proud of our livery and of our logo and we are not moving away from that at all,” a spokesman told RTE.
The airline, he said, was committed to providing widespread availability of low fares and the simplest and most effective way that people could access them is through the website.
Sales through the website have soared from just 2 percent to almost 40 percent in under a year.
“That has been very successful for us,” he said. “We obviously want it to be more successful so we are simply using the opportunity of the fact that these four aircraft were due for repainting now as part of their normal maintenance cycle.”
The spokesman said they airline is in no way defensive or apologetic about what it is doing.
“We think it is absolutely vital to the commercial future of the company,” he said. “We are not changing our basic livery, we are retaining that, we are committed to it.
“We think people are attracted by it [the livery]. People tell us that all the time. They find that when they see the Aer Lingus aircraft in foreign places that the shamrock has a certain resonance for them.”
He said aircraft were repainted an average of every six to eight years. No more aircraft were immediately due for repainting.
In 1997, the Aer Lingus livery received an