Virgin Atlantic’s 40th Anniversary Airbus A330neo Honors Sir Richard Branson

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  • Virgin Atlantic celebrates 40 years with a new A330neo named Ruby Rebel, embodying the Virgin’s rebellious spirit.
  • Creativity in aircraft registrations allowed by UK rules; the red-themed spirit lives on Virgin’s planes.
  • Unique icons on Virgin aircraft connect to Richard Branson’s daughter and are personalized to fit Branson’s career elements.

Virgin Atlantic is set to celebrate four decades of international long-haul flights. In honor of its founder, Richard Branson, the London Gatwick-based airline intends to use state-of-the-art A330neo to mark the latest milestone. The aircraft will be called Ruby Rebel, which will bear the registration G-VSRB and will be the carrier’s fifth of the type. The plane is due to enter service in May.

Shai Weiss, the Virgin CEO, commented on this occasion.

Forty years ago, Virgin Atlantic flew our first customers between London and New York, offering something different and realizing our purpose of ensuring everyone can take on the world. As we gear up to mark our Ruby anniversary in June, it’s an opportunity to look ahead to the next forty years.

“So much has changed, but the one thing that’s remained constant is our incredible people and their unique red spirit, the red thread that keeps us flying miles above the rest. It all started with Richard on June 22, 1984, a pioneer with a vision to shake up the travel industry, putting people first and giving customers a choice. Ruby Rebel embodies the rebellious spirit that’s always driven us to do things differently. And, the best is yet to come.”

Similarly, Sir Richard Branson also commented,

When starting Virgin Atlantic, I went against everyone’s advice – and on paper, they were right. They knew we’d be a tiny airline against much bigger players. But my attitude is that if you can create something that’s better than what everybody else is offering, then you have a chance of succeeding

Virgin Atlantic was created to provide a bright red, fun, friendly, fabulous choice that made flying better for everyone. We worked out in 1984 all the things we could do differently, from our planes, our Clubhouses, our in-flight experience and most importantly our people. Now, 40 years later that rebellious spirit lives on and will continue to drive us forward as we shake up the aviation industry for the next 40 years and beyond.

Virgin’s unique way of honoring people

Virgin Atlantic is famous for its cheeky registrations, with G-VNYC celebrating the Big Apple or G-VEII celebrating the late British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. In a previous article, we covered the airline’s extensive history behind this tradition.

VAA Ruby Rebel Flying Icon

Photo: Virgin Atlantic

This is due to a feature in the UK’s rules for registering aircraft, allowing owners to get creative with their registrations. For that reason, the system Virgin uses would be difficult to replicate in other states. The UK Civil Aviation Authority issues civil aircraft registrations in two ways.

  1. In-sequence registration: allows for registrations to be made in alphabetical order
  2. Out-of-sequence registration: full customization (so long as no other aircraft ever bared the same registration)

If you want to know more about how aircraft are registered, you should check out a video made by fellow aviation expert DJ’s Aviation, which explains this topic in great detail.

Unique elements of Virgin’s identity: the Icons

Historically, all Virgin Atlantic ircraft had the same ‘flying lady’ icon. It was designed by Alberto Vargas, a Peruvian artist, hence the ‘Varga Girl’ moniker. However, with the current fleet refresh underway, Virgin decided it was time to redesign.

According to the airline, the icon, which is the little character in front of the two doors on the front, will be inspired by Holly Branson, Sir Richard’s daughter. Since the A350s began delivery, the British full-service carrier has created a tradition of designing unique Icons for each airframe.

G-VSRB will, therefore, feature elements of the British entrepreneurs’ career, including Virgin Records pin badges, a Tubular Bells charm bracelet, a Virgin Galactic rocket on the belt’s buckle, and a Virgin Voyages anchor on the icons boot. Finally, it will give a fitting tribute to the cabin crew, who form an essential part of the iconic part of the carrier’s brand image thanks to Vivienne Westwood’s uniform, which is still worn by their flight attendants today.


Virgin Atlantic: The Airline That Matches Registrations To Aircraft Names

How the airline has taken picking names and registrations to their aircraft fleet to a whole new level.

Have you flown on Virgin Atlantic recently? How was it? Please let us know in the comment section.

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