Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is retiring its iconic Flying Lady emblem and replacing it with more “ethnically diverse” figures, including a black man, black woman and a gay man in rainbow leotards.
In a post on its website, the British-based airline said the figures, which still proudly carry England’s Union Jack flag, were designed “to reflect the diversity of Britain today.”
It’s goodbye to @VirginAtlantic’s Flying Lady – and hello to five new flying icons you’ll be able to spot on their new fleet of aircraft https://t.co/GWeq448kmE #AvGeek #AirbusA350 #AviationNews pic.twitter.com/sWNTCs6tlg
— Virgin (@Virgin) April 3, 2019
The original Flying Lady, who graced Virgin Atlantic aircraft for 30 years, was based on pin-up girl artwork from the 1930s and 1940s.
— BastilleGlobal (@BastilleGlobal) April 3, 2019
The new emblems are all about “increasing diversity.”
“Virgin Atlantic has pledged to tackle its gender pay gap and increase diversity and inclusion across its business,” the Virgin Atlantic said in the post. “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.”
The airline also recently updated its uniform and makeup policy so that make-up is no longer mandatory for female cabin crew.
“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,” said Nikki Humphrey, SVP of People at 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 program for women, as well as the launch of engineering apprenticeships.”
She added: “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.”
Say hello to the new Virgin Atlantic flying icons. Coming to our A350-1000 aircraft soon. ❤️The high flyers are a diverse range of men and women representing modern Britain, coming to four brand new A350-1000 aircraft this year, followed by a further eight by 2021. ✈️Read more on Ruby: https://virg.in/FlyingIcons
Posted by Virgin Atlantic on Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Reactions to the change on social media were mixed.
“do a fat one…then I’ll think you’re not just following fashionable thoughts…..go on, dare you!” said a woman on Facebook. Another Facebook user suggested that they include a figure with tattoos.
But many people like Richard Branson wholly supported the move.
“Brilliant work. Great to see diversity reaching new heights,” he said.