Hello to Virgin Atlantic's new Flying Icons

The Flying Icon on Virgin Atlantic's Red Velvet plane
Image from Virgin Atlantic
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
2 April 2019

Virgin Atlantic has revealed its new ‘Flying Icons’, which will adorn the brand new fleet of aircraft.

The new high flyers are a diverse range of men and women, representing modern Britain. They will appear on the four brand new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft the airline is introducing in 2019, followed by a further eight aircraft by 2021.

The Flying Lady, who has decorated Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft for more than 30 years, is based on the pin-up girls made famous in the 1930s and 1940s by Alberto Vargas. But the airline wants the new imagery to reflect the diversity of Britain today.

Virgin Atlantic has pledged to tackle its gender pay gap and increase diversity and inclusion across its business. The airline aims to have a 50:50 gender balance in leadership roles. They’re also aiming for at least 12 per cent black, Asian and minority ethnic group representation across the company by 2022.

Richard Branson stands next to an illustration of Virgin Atlantic's new Flying Icon of an Indian woman
Image from Virgin Atlantic

“The saying goes 'you can’t be what you can’t see’ and that has never been truer than the aviation industry’s glamorous image in the past,” Nikki Humphrey, senior vice president of people at Virgin Atlantic, said.

“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.”

Virgin Atlantic was a founding signatory of the Women in Aviation and Aerospace charter in 2018 as well as a signatory of the Women in Hospitality, Travel and Leisure charter (of which Nikki Humphrey 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.

Visit Virgin Atlantic to find out more.