Five new “flying icons”, chosen to champion the diversity of Virgin Atlantic’s customer base and workforce, will adorn the airline’s new Airbus A350 fleet.
Ahead of the unveiling of its A350 next Monday (April 8), Virgin has announced it will retire its emblematic Flying Lady, or Varga Lady, which was inspired by the figureheads that have traditionally adorned ships.
Virgin says its new flying icons feature a “diverse range of men and women representing modern Britain”. The airline will take delivery of four A350s this year, and a further eight by 2021.
The change comes after the airline pledged to achieve 50-50 gender balance across its leadership team and 12% BAME – black, Asian and minority ethnic group – representation across the company by 2022.
Other pledges by the airline include addressing its gender pay gap and increasing diversity and inclusion across the business.
Nikki Humphrey, Virgin senior vice-president people, said: “The saying goes: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. That has never been truer than the aviation industry’s glamorous 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 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 not just flying with us, but also working with us.”
Virgin is a founding member of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace initiative and a signatory of the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure charter.
Its Springboard network, meanwhile, aims to help women in junior roles progress to become senior leaders.