Belavia comes in from the cold...
Not a snowflake on the tail, but a cornflower. One of Belavia's new 737-100%s. Photo Belavia
For a very long time, the Belavia livery was a Cold War throwback - closely resembling Aeroflot, but long after even Aeroflot had gone all contemporary and adopted its new red, white, blue, silver and orange paint job. Seeing a Belavia aircraft, with it's aged logo, font, and colour scheme, looked like either something from an old spy film, or an example of a retro livery - where an airline paints one or two aircraft in a nostalgic former livery.
Belavia Tu-154 in the company's familiar, neigh tired old livery. Photo Belavia
With two blue lines along the length of the fuselage - called cheatlines - and an encircled logo on the tailplane, Belavia's old livery even managed to make brand new aircraft look washed up and dated.
Yet things changed when the company introduced its new cool purplish blue and white paint job in 2016. It's a little surprising not to have incorporated the green and red of the national flag into the livery, but the fresh blue chosen is a colour close to the hearts of all Belarusians. The two-tone livery is white and cornflower blue. It's the national flower of Belarus and a strong cultural symbol too, as the cornflower can be seen in fields all over the country, and is a symbol of happiness and longevity.
A Belavia 737-100% getting airborne. Photo Belavia
So the white circular design on the tailfin may look like a snowflake, but it's not.
One more thing...Given the highly controlled economy of Belarus, it's somewhat surprising to discover that the country has become a centre of IT excellence - with Belarusian programmers responsible for the Viber messaging app and the successful multi-player World of Tanks.
The game dates from 2009 and features various tanks and armoured from the Second World War. Amongst other milestones, World of Tanks holds the record for the most number of people playing simultaneously - set in January 2013 with a record breaking 190,541 players. In total some 200 million players have enjoyed a virtual spin in a World of Tanks fighting vehicle.
The dedicated World of Tanks livery appeared on a Belavia Boeing 737-300 in July 2016. 'The Game from Belarus, Enjoyed Worldwide' it says on the fuselage...
World of Tanks livery on a Belavia 737-300. Photo Belavia
How can Belavia work for you?
Getting to Belarus: Belavia has its hubs at Minsk National Airport. It's the national carrier and operates flights across Europe, the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), Georgia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Israel, Lebanon and Iran. Incidentally, Belarus introduced a five-day visa-free scheme in 2017, valid for citizens of 80 countries.
Pro's: the Soviet made aircraft that once made up the entire fleet are long gone, and today Belavia operates an all western fleet of 26 aircraft, including 18 Boeing 737's, four Bombardier CRJ's and four Embraers - with two more of the latter on order. The look and feel of the airline is now far from communist era, and the website has been spruced up to include online check-in and the like, and you'll find the perfectly decent 'OnAir' in flight magazine too (though it is mostly in Russuan).
Service has perked up a lot in recent years and the airline still provdes free snacks and hot meals, dependent on flight duration.
An old livery Belavia 737-300 looking like something from the 70s. Photo Belavia
& Cons: Belavia lacks the critical mass of flights and frequencies to be of use for connecting passengers, and isn't in an airline alliance.
Belavia then and now; from parkas and cheatlines to a dapper jacket and video game promotion. Photos Belavia
The frequent flyer club: 'Belavia Leader' is only good for anyone who flies Belavia a lot, as it doesn't have any other airline partners for collecting and spending.
A few facts: Belavia was founded in 1996 as a helicopter operator, when after the collapse of Communism in 1991, the local division of Aeroflot was nationalised and renamed Belavia. In its early days, Belavia operated a mixed fleet of aging Soviet-built aircraft, but for some years now has a western-built fleet of Boeings, Bombardiers and Embraers.
Cue soaring music and some air-to-air shots for the new Belavia livery