Virgin Atlantic Airways has always inexplicably attempted a fine balance between the crisply modern and the vaguely old-school. It is also unashamedly British. When the lumbering giants at British Airways were busy banishing the Union Jack from their aircraft livery — prompting Baroness Thatcher to cover the model of a BA 747 with a handkerchief — Sir Richard Branson said “We’re British: why don’t we fly the flag?” The Union Jack was added to every Virgin Atlantic plane and a flag design was later added to the wingtips. Virgin Atlantic now has a patriotic red-head (above) bedecked in the Union flag on the nose of each of its aircraft glamourously advertising their national origins in this hyperglobalist age.
Virgin Group has not restrained itself from expanding beyond the trans-Atlantic flightpath. In 2000, they established Virgin Blue in Australia, originally flying only between Brisbane and Sydney, but gradually expanding within the country, especially after the 2001 collapse of the major domestic carrier Ansett Australia. In 2003, Virgin started Pacific Blue Airways out of New Zealand, operating trans-Tasman routes, followed by the founding of Polynesian Blue in 2005 running flights between New Zealand, Australia, and Samoa. Finally, V Australia was started operations in 2009 running long-haul flights out of Australia.
This multiplicity of brands and operations was a bit unfashionable in this age of ‘synergy’, so this May it was announced that all these entities would be folded into a single carrier to be known as Virgin Australia. (I don’t know why they didn’t choose the somewhat more complementary name of ‘Virgin Pacific’).
I’m happy to discover (via Brand New) that Virgin Australia will carry on the patriotic tradition of its British stablemate with its own flag-bearing virgin.
I am a big fan of the Australian flag and I’m glad to see that, like Australia’s monarchy, efforts to abolish or replace it have largely come to naught. The Australian National Flag Association leads the charge in defending and promoting the dominion-continent’s most emblematic symbol, while AusFlag promotes debate with the aim of adopting a newer flag with less historical resonance. AusFlag basically maintains an anything-but-the-Union-Jack position, implying that the Union Jack is un-Australian. (If they’re right, then perhaps the Westminster system of government and the inheritance of centuries of tradition of parliamentary democracy are un-Australian as well).
Virgin Australia’s patriotic maiden will, however, be rendered in a more subtle monochrome, rather than the red-white-and-blue of Virgin Atlantic.