After 35 years’ service Virgin Atlantic is to retire its “Flying Lady” motif, which has adorned the airline’s aircraft since operations began in 1984. It is to be replaced with a “diverse range of men and women representing modern Britain”.
The new “Flying Icons” will initially be rolled out across the carrier’s 12 Airbus A350-1000s, deliveries of which are to begin later this year. Named Zadie, Rey, Daley, Oscar and Meera, they will begin to appear as the new aircraft join the fleet. The airline has yet to confirm when it will receive its first A350, although an initial three are expected to be registered G-VLUX (c/n 274), G-VPOP (c/n 298) and G-VPRD (c/n 319).
— Virgin (@Virgin) April 2, 2019
The announcement comes after the airline confirmed it is aiming to achieve 50:50 gender balance in its leadership and at least 12% black, Asian and minority ethnic group representation across the company by 2022.
Inspired by Alberto Vargas’ 1930s and 1940s pin-up girls, the Flying Lady was introduced with Virgin Atlantic’s first aircraft – Boeing 747-200, G-VIRG (c/n 21189), delivered to the carrier in June 1984 and named Maiden Voyager.
— Virgin Atlantic (@VirginAtlantic) April 2, 2019
Nikki Humphrey, senior vice president of people at Virgin Atlantic commented: “The saying goes ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’ and that has never been truer than the aviation industry’s glamourous image in the past. We have been working for a number of years to tackle our gender pay gap, create an inclusive workplace and increase the diversity of our workforce, through the development of our Springboard program for women, as well as the launch of engineering apprenticeships. By introducing our new Flying Icons I hope it encourages people from all backgrounds to feel at home flying with us, but also working with us.”