Virgin Atlantic unveils 40th anniversary A330neo honoring Sir Richard Branson

Virgin Atlantic

UK-based Virgin Atlantic is preparing to celebrate its 40th anniversary in June 2024. To mark the occasion, the carrier has decided to bestow the ultimate accolade on its founder, Sir Richard Branson, by naming its next new aircraft in his honor. The aircraft, an Airbus A330-900neo will be registered G-VSRB and will carry the name ‘Ruby Rebel’. The aircraft is due for delivery to the airline in May 2024 and will join four others of the same type in the current Virgin Atlantic fleet. 

Additionally, the carrier’s iconic ‘Flying Lady’ nose art motif is to be replaced with an all-new design, which according to the carrier is “inspired by the rebellious spirit that’s always driven Virgin Atlantic to do things differently.” 

The new icon has a distinct punk styling, reflecting Virgin Atlantic’s iconic Vivienne Westwood uniform that was introduced in 2014 and that the airline’s cabin crew still wears. It also features subtle acknowledgments to Branson’s career throughout its design with Virgin Records pin badges, a Tubular Bells charm bracelet, a Virgin Galactic spaceship on the belt buckle, and a Virgin Voyages anchor on the boots.  

Another bracelet featuring the letters J, H, and S on the icon’s arm is a gesture to Richard’s wife Joan, and their two children Holly and Sam. 

Virgin Atlantic

“Forty years ago, Virgin Atlantic flew our first customers between London and New York offering something different and realizing our purpose to ensure everyone can take on the world,” said Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic. “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,” Weiss added. 

Virgin Atlantic launched in June 1984. Its first aircraft, a Boeing 747-200 registered G-VIRG and named ‘Maiden Voyager’ took off from London-Gatwick Airport (LGW) heading for New York-Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR).  

Steve Fitzgerald / Wikimedia Commons

According to a statement by the airline, “Ruby Rebel symbolizes the airline’s desire to continue doing things differently. Its focus has always been to deliver the best customer experience in a brilliantly different way. From being the first airline to introduce seat-back TVs, the Premium cabin, and fleet-wide Wi-Fi, to flying the world’s first Pride flight and the first 100% sustainable aviation fuel transatlantic flight, Virgin Atlantic and its people continue to challenge the status quo.” 

Virgin has come a long way in its first 40 years from that single 747-200 to a fleet that today comprises 42 aircraft with another 15 on order. The airline is nowadays 49% owned by Delta Air Lines of the US and is a leading player in the SkyTeam alliance. The airline has its main hub at London-Heathrow Airport (LHR) and also operates certain services from Manchester Airport (MAN) in the north of England. 

Virgin Atlantic

“When starting Virgin Atlantic, I went against everyone’s advice – and on paper they were right,” said Branson. “They knew we’d be a tiny airline against much bigger players. But my attitude is that if you can create something 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,” Branson concluded.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

AeroTime is on YouTube

Subscribe to the AeroTime Hub channel for exclusive video content.

Subscribe to AeroTime Hub