Gavin Haines, Telegraph, April 3, 2019
She has adorned its jets for generations, but Virgin Atlantic’s iconic Flying Lady is to be phased out and replaced with five new figureheads, which the airline claims will better represent modern Britain.
The new emblems, which include a black man, a black woman and a gay man, will wear the same red leotard as the Flying Lady, who was based on Alberto Vargas’ pin-up paintings from the 1930s.
Virgin claims the new figureheads are part of the airline’s plan to boost diversity within its workforce and foster a greater sense of inclusivity.
“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,” said Nikki Humphrey, senior vice president of people at Virgin Atlantic.
“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.”
The move comes a month after Virgin Atlantic told its cabin crew they no longer needed to wear makeup to work – a policy that is widespread within the industry. The airline has also started giving female staff the option of wearing trousers instead of skirts.
Virgin Atlantic recently pledged to have a 50:50 gender balance in leadership rules by 2022, plus a 12 per cent black, Asian and minority ethnic group (BME) representation across the company.
The carrier also promised to tackle its gender pay gap, which, according to BBC analysis, grew from 27.2 to 30 per cent last year. Nevertheless, the airline is still closer to achieving pay parity than many of its rivals.
“We’ve 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,” said Humphrey.
The new figureheads will appear on Virgin Atlantic’s A350-1000 fleet from this year.