Virgin Atlantic Reveals New A350 Names For International Woman’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, Virgin Atlantic will be naming two of its newest aircraft after two very inspirational women. A pair of A350-1000s will be named in honor of Eve Branson, mother of founder Richard, and Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Suffragette movement.

Virgin new plane names
Lady Emmeline is one of the two new plane names. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

New plane names for Virgin’s A350s

Today, in celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, Virgin Atlantic has revealed it is naming two of its newest aircraft in honor of women who changed the world. The airline is adding names to represent the iconic suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst and mother of the airline’s founder Eve Branson to two of its brand new Airbus A350-1000s.

Estelle Hollingsworth, Chief People Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented,

“We’re delighted to be celebrating two fearless females this International Women’s Day.  Having their names emblazoned on the side of our planes will act as a lasting reminder of their spirit and the determination to drive positive change that both of these exceptional women encompassed.

“Today, we will also be celebrating our own women in aviation.  We are focussed on being a fair, diverse, and inclusive employer that attracts the best talent, regardless of gender.  We’re committed to creating an environment that allows women to thrive in the workplace, by ensuring we have a gender balance in leadership positions, as well as creating a framework for future talent to flourish.”

The move follows on from last year’s partnership with Barbie, which coined the hashtag #seeherfly. The airline released a range of dolls showcasing women in aviation, including a female pilot and an engineer Barbie, all based on real women working in the industry.

Virgin Atlantic Reveals New A350 Names For International Woman’s Day
Last year, Virgin released new Barbies depicting women in aviation. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

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Details of the planes

The first A350 is registered G-VLIB, and will be named ‘Lady Emmeline’ in honor of the founder of the Suffragette movement founder Emmeline Pankhurst. As well as having a plane named after this iconic women’s rights leader, Lady Emmeline will collect charitable donations on board, which will be distributed to a range of women’s charities.

Lady Emmeline won’t be around this summer, however. The airline states it is planned to enter service in 2022, and will be working on the airline’s leisure routes. Expect to see G-VLIB on routes from London to Orlando, Barbados and Antigua.

Virgin new plane names
G-VLIB is expected to enter service in 2022. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

The second A350 is registered G-VEVE and is being named in honor of Richard Branson’s mother Eve. It will be named ‘Fearless Lady’, and is a fitting tribute as Eve sadly passed away in January this year.

Although Mr Branson is far more widely known than his mother, Eve was a pioneer for her time in many ways. She has been described as “an entrepreneur before the word existed”, and led a colorful life that included service with the WRENS during World War II. She took gliding lessons disguised as a boy, and worked as an air hostess on the treacherous British South American Airways routes.

Eve Branson
Eve Branson has lived a colorful life. Photo:

Her legacy goes further than the name of a plane too. In 2005, she founded the Eve Branson Foundation, a non-profit based in Morocco which aims to provide young people with artisanal skills-training and to preserve traditional Moroccan and Berber crafts, enriching the lives of local families from Atlas Mountain communities.

Virgin currently has seven A350s in its fleet, out of an order for 12 of the type. In a break from the traditional Varga Girl flying icon, the airline has introduced a number of new characters to this fleet, designed to showcase the diversity and colorful nature of its home in the UK.