Perhaps the most poignant story, though, is told by Ricky, whose fascination with flying began when an American aircraft carrier visited Barbados. Shortly afterwards, when his dad asked him what he wanted to do with his life his swift response was “be a pilot”. Dad’s answer? “Black people don’t fly planes.” Ricky went on to become our first black captain. Then on the 24th September 1998, he was at the controls of the giant Boeing 747 when our first ever flight to Barbados touched down.
The Barbadian journey continues next year when on the 55th anniversary of independence, Bajans plan to replace Queen Elizabeth as head of state and become a republic. Announcing the change, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that Barbadians wanted a Barbadian head of state, adding: “This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving.”
For all the progress that’s been made, earlier this year the needless death of George Floyd and the growing Black Lives Matter movement laid bare the work that still needs to be done. At Virgin Atlantic, we stand for inclusion regardless of gender, race or sexuality. We will not tolerate prejudice of any kind.
`We also understand that Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) representation in aviation needs to improve. We’re committed to using the power and influence of our brand and incredible people to drive real change. In a small but meaningful gesture, we’ve recently introduced BAME flying icons as nose art on some of our aircraft. We also have a newly formed and flourishing internal network that celebrates, champions and supports our BAME employees.