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Virgin Atlantic is moving on from its Flying Lady motifs on the front of its aircraft, replacing them with a slightly more contemporary Flying Icons theme including a flying gay man.

The Flying Icons are “a diverse range of men and women representing modern Britain,” the airline said.

They will be added to four new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft this year and a further eight by 2021. They will replace the Flying Lady artwork the airline has used since its launch.

‘Lady Scarlet’ adorns the nose of one of Virgin’s old 747s.

The Flying Lady was inspired by figureheads that have decorated ships since the 16th century, and are based on the pin-up girls drawn by Alberto Vargas in the 1930s and ’40s.

“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,” Virgin Atlantic SVP Nikki Humphrey said.

“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.

“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.”

One of the new diverse Virgin Atlantic figureheads
One of the new diverse Virgin Atlantic figureheads

The airline was founded in 1984 by Richard Branson who has been a vocal supporter of LGBTQ equality.

He recently spoke out against the introduction of the death penalty for homosexuality in Brunei.

“New laws in Brunei will punish adultery and gay sex with death by stoning. This abhorrent, inhuman and medieval piece of legislation has no place in the 21st century,” he tweeted.

Last year, Virgin Atlantic announced it would fly a “Pride flight” from London to New York on 28 June 2019, to coincide with WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riots.

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