First new Virgin Atlantic plane revealed after pin-up girls scrapped

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled its first aircraft featuring a revamped “flying icon” after it stopped using pin-up girls.

The airline announced in April that its new planes would display a diverse range of men and women “representing modern Britain” instead of its traditional Varga Girl images.

The first of its fleet of 12 new Airbus A350 aircraft has been named Red Velvet, and features a black woman wearing a ruffled cropped white blouse and red shorts.

Virgin Atlantic has ordered 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft (Virgin Atlantic/PA)
Virgin Atlantic has ordered 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft (Virgin Atlantic/PA)

Livery applied to Virgin Atlantic’s other new planes will include a black man and a gay man.

The carrier said it will be the first in the world to have male figureheads on its planes.

For the past 35 years its aircraft have featured a Varga Girl image, inspired by the pictures of pin-up girls made famous by Peruvian artist Alberto Vargas in the 1930s and 1940s.

Sir Richard Branson and Dita Von Teese pose for photographers at McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, USA in June 2010 (Steve Parsons/PA)
Sir Richard Branson and Dita Von Teese pose for photographers at McCarran International Airport, Las Vegas, in June 2010 (Steve Parsons/PA)

As recently as 2010, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson posed for photographs in front of planes, carrying models wearing similar red outfits.

After the new A350 was revealed, he wrote on social media that the company has “a brand new flying icon”.

Virgin Atlantic has pledged to tackle its gender pay gap and increase diversity and inclusion.

.@VirginAtlantic's new plane has a brand new flying icon https://t.co/Ssx0Ve9uLq#VirginFamilypic.twitter.com/pvdO6e7yWb

— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) August 28, 2019

Earlier this year, it emerged that the airline has stopped telling female cabin crew they have to wear make-up. It also started providing them with trousers as part of their standard uniform, rather than only if requested.

It is aiming to have a 50/50 gender split in leadership roles, as well as 12% black, Asian and minority ethnic group representation across the company, by 2022.

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