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Aviation: Virgin Atlantic reveals new Flying Icons

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virgin Branson

Virgin Atlantic is saying farewell to its Flying Lady and welcoming five new “Flying Icons” to adorn its brand new A350-1000 fleet. The high flyers are a diverse range of men and women representing modern Britain, rolled out on four brand new A350-1000 aircraft this year, followed by a further eight by 2021.

Virgin Atlantic’s use of the Flying Lady was inspired by figureheads that have decorated ships since the 16th century. The artwork for it was based on the pin up girls made famous by Alberto Vargas [in the 1930s and 1940s].

This move represents the changing face of one of Britain’s most loved brands. Virgin Atlantic has made a pledge to tackle its gender pay gap and increase diversity across the business, and this is mirrored in the look and feel of the brand. The airline is aiming to have a 50:50 gender balance in leadership roles, as well as at least 12% black, Asian and minority ethnic group (BAME) representation across the company, by 2022.

The airline was a founding member of Women in Aviation and Aerospace in 2018 as well as a signatory of the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure charter (of which Nikki Humphrey, SVP of People sits on the board). Virgin Atlantic has also ensured greater diversity with their engineering apprenticeship and pilot cadet schemes and has developed a Springboard Network which aims to help women in junior roles develop clear career pathways to become senior leaders.

Virgin Atlantic will be the first airline to have male figureheads on its aircraft. In a further move to increase equality, the airline recently announced it has changed its uniform and styling policy so that women could choose whether they would like trousers or a skirt and removed requirements to wear makeup.

Nikki Humphrey, SVP 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 and increase the diversity of our workforce, through the development of our Springboard scheme 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.”

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