Southwest Airlines has increasingly been finding graffiti on the bellies of its planes and has now asked employees to keep an eye out for the culprits. What type of graffiti? According to ABC15 in Phoenix, sources say the markings are Arabic words, and another outlet reports the markings have been done using a chemical process.
“These unauthorized markings typically appear as symbols or words tagged on the exterior of the aircraft,” an internal memo by Southwest, and obtained by ABC15, says.
“We need our employees to be aware of a situation that is taking place,” the memo continues. “Beginning in February, we received reports of markings on our aircraft, and recently these reports have increased.” It goes on to say the markings appear “commonly on the engine and/or landing gear.”
Citing unnamed sources, ABC15 says the markings appear to be Arabic words:
Multiple sources, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak on behalf of the company, told ABC15 the markings appear to be Arabic words.
The sources believe the markings are being done by an employee or group of employees joking around.
One employee told ABC15 it’s not uncommon for ground crews to write their names or airport in the dirt on the planes, but said the recent markings were different.
KNX-RADIO in Los Angeles reports the markings “appeared to have been done with a chemical process that reveals the text once an auxiliary power unit is turned on and heats up the outside skin of the aircraft.”
ABC15 confirmed that federal investigators are now involved.