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Virgin Atlantic replaces ‘Flying Lady’ with ‘Icons’ for diversity

Lydia Smith April 2, 2019

The Flying Icons will be featured on the new A350 aircraft (Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has announced it is replacing its Flying Lady with five new “Flying Icons” to promote diversity.

A range of people representing modern Britain will appear on four new A350 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, dating back to the 1930s and 1940s.

The move comes after Virgin Atlantic pledged to tackle its gender pay gap and increase diversity and inclusion across the business.

The airline is aiming to have a 50:50 gender balance in leadership roles, as well as 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.

One of the new Flying Icons (Virgin Atlantic)

With its latest brand campaign, Virgin Atlantic became the first company to show a same sex couple in its ad imagery in India, and 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.

(Virgin Atlantic)

“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 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.”

Last year, Virgin Atlantic launched the first flight staffed entirely by LGBT+ crew to New York.

Broadway actor and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star Tituss Burgess featured as the master of ceremonies during the flight, which also had entertainment including an on-board DJ, drag queen bingo, a Judy Garland singalong and inter-seat speed dating.

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