Denton: Magic and AirTran Airways Unveil "Magic 1"

Denton: Magic and AirTran Airways Unveil "Magic 1"

By John Denton
December 15, 2009

Note: The contents of this page have not been reviewed or endorsed by the Orlando Magic. All opinions expressed by John Denton are solely his own and do not reflect the opinions of the Orlando Magic or their Basketball Operations staff, partners or sponsors. His sources are not known to the Magic and he has no special access to information beyond the access and privileges that go along with being an NBA accredited member of the media.

ORLANDO – Dwight Howard is no longer the only Orlando Magic-branded entity flying through the Central Florida skies. There’s now also a blue, black and white custom-painted AirTran Boeing 717 airplane adorned with the Magic logo taking flight out of Orlando.

``Magic 1’’ was unveiled by the Magic and AirTran Airways on Tuesday at the Magic Carpet Aviation hangar to blaring music and much fanfare. The airplane features a blue frontal body, a dynamic black swath across the middle and the rear of the plane is a brash white. Stars are painted across the middle of the plane, while the engines on both sides boldly state ``ORLANDO MAGIC,’’ and the tail is adorned with the Magic’s trademarked logo.

Fittingly enough, the plane was signed by Howard, Orlando’s superstar center, who was recently added as a key spokesman for AirTran. The airline promptly donated $5,000 to both the Dwight D. Howard Foundation and the Orlando Magic Youth Fund to celebrate the occasion.

The one-of-a-kind airplane, the only NBA-themed plane in use today, will operate across AirTran’s network of more than 60 destinations, exposing millions of passengers to the Magic and AirTran brands.

``In simple terms, it’s gorgeous,’’ Magic Chief Operating Officer Alex Martins said. ``It’s something that you are going to notice in every airport that it flies in and out of because it is going to stick out from any other airplane flying the skies. It’s great to know that that Magic brand is going to be flying all over the country and people are going to notice it.’’

The Magic and AirTran announced in September a multi-year partnership making the airline a ``Champions in the Community’’ partner for the new Amway Center that is slated to open next fall. ``Champions of the Community’’ partners are an elite tier of brands committed to Central Florida and the Parramore community.

AirTran is now the official airline of the Magic and Amway Center. The new arena will also feature a first-of-its-kind integrated space called, ``The AirTran Airways Flight Deck,’’ located in the inner bowl of the facility.

``As Orlando’s hometown airline, we are delighted to partner with the hometown team and unveil this great-looking aircraft,’’ AirTran CEO Bob Fornaro said. ``We are excited and proud that millions of people all over the country will see our two brands flying side-by-side in the sky.’’

The Magic are the first NBA team to have their own themed plane. The Indianapolis Colts, Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Raves of the NFL are affiliated with AirTran and have themed planes.

Howard, who is well on his way to playing in his fourth consecutive NBA All-Star Game after helping the Magic reach the NBA Finals last spring, joins NBA quarterbacks Donovan McNabb and Matt Ryan, baseball stars Tom Glavine and Ryan Braun, IndyCar racer Danica Patrick and hockey stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Kari Lehtonen as endorsers of AirTran. Howard will be featured in coming months in radio, online and billboard advertising.

``It means a lot to me. AirTran has been a great partner with the Magic and they’ve also been there to support my foundation,’’ Howard said. ``It just feels good that they believe in me. I’ve been talking to them for about two years and they’ve believed in me and what my foundation stands for.

``Bob (Fornaro) and I were talking earlier about all of the stuff that we want to do for all of the underprivileged kids in Orlando,’’ Howard continued. ``It’s really amazing that there are a lot of people out there who really care about the community and that I’m not alone.’’

Howard said he’s signed all kinds of items through the years for autographs, but never an airplane. He endorsed the blue, black and white design of the plane, calling it ``really hot.’’
Added Howard: ``It’s a really nice design. When you see it in the air, you are going to know that’s a Magic plane.’’

Martins said because the Magic and AirTran value so many of the same principles in business and customer relations, the partnership between the two entities proved to be a natural one.

``They are great community partners and their focus is the same as ours – underprivileged children organizations. And beyond the community outreach programs, the principles of their business are so similar to ours as well,’’ Martins said. ``They are a very employee-focused organization. And when you talk about technology, they are the only airline now with Wi-Fi in every single one of their airplanes.

``And they’ve really focused on service,’’ Martins continued. ``Those are a lot of the same principles that we’re focusing on today. We’re focusing on technology and service and how we can use those to enhance our fan experience. It’s such great alignment with our same principles that it makes it a great partnership.’’

John Denton writes for His Orlando Magic ``Behind the Scenes’’ segment can be heard on ESPN 1080 AM on Thursday at 5:05 p.m. Submit questions to John for his ``Ask J.D.’’ mailbag feature that will appear every Friday at