Virgin Atlantic is retiring its 35 year-old traditional mascot of a 1940’s style pinup girl in favour of a number of diverse figures representative of the LGBT+ community and people of colour.
The new mascots depict a gay man, a black man and woman and an Asian woman and will all adorn the red outfits and Union Jack capes.
The gay icon’s red outfit also includes the rainbow flag.
Senior vice president of people at Virgin Atlantic, Nikki Humphrey commented, “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.”
Humphrey hopes that the new icons will not only encourage a more diverse set of people to travel with the airline but also to work with them:
“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 said the new icons represent the company’s ambition for gender and diversity balance in the workplace and support for people of all sexualities.
Virgin Atlantic has also promised that by 2022, they will have achieved gender equality as well as having at least 12% black, Asian and minority group representation as part of their workforce.
The airline recently announced that female cabin crew will no longer be required to wear make-up and will have the option of wearing trousers as part of their standard uniform.
Although the changes have mostly been met with approval, the names given to the figures have caused some controversy.
“Putting the black icon on a plane called Cool Runner sounds like a tired trope that predictably links black people to ‘urban’ culture and entertainment, and betrays exactly the kind of stereotypical thinking Virgin claims it’s trying to change,” commented author Afua Hirsch.
The new icons will be unveiled this summer on the airline’s new long-haul A350 planes.
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