Without anthropomorphising our aircraft too much, Sleeping Beauty, one of our former Airbus A340-600 aircraft has been fast asleep in storage in Tarbes, France since 2015. After this long hibernation, our engineering teams have woken her up, checked her over and she is rejoining our fleet again. To celebrate, she’s had a rather special paint job.
A sky-high thank you
Bringing an aircraft out of storage is a massive undertaking. After the myriad checks and tests, a mountain of paperwork and some very tough certification, G-VNAP was almost ready to greet her first customers. But before she did, we sent her to the paint shop of Air Livery in Manchester where she spent a week getting her new look. The result is a stunning ‘thank you’ to our people with a 7-foot by 152-foot message exclaiming ‘a big Virgin Atlantic thank you’ along the length of the very long fuselage of the A340-600. The paint scheme salutes the work of the 9,000 people around the world who keep our operation running 24/7 and includes a limited edition upright version of the ‘Flying Lady’, raising her glass to toast our people. This is only the second time this design has been used, the first being on our first Boeing 787 Dreamliner which entered the fleet in 2015.
An opportunity to do something special
“The people of Virgin Atlantic have made our business and our brand what it is today. They’re both our magic ingredient and our greatest strength,” said Craig Kreeger, our CEO. “We wanted to take the opportunity to do something special with this aircraft to recognise all the hard work that goes on day in and day out across Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays, so the ‘big Virgin Atlantic thank you’ message is for every one of our 9,000 people. Paired with the special edition of our iconic Flying Lady, we hope we’ve created something our people can feel proud of, which is also eye-catching and fun for our customers.”
Decisive action with our customers in mind
The story about how she got rejuvenated, resprayed and reunited with our fleet came about after a global industry-wide supply issue meant extended ground time for some of our aircraft. We had to move swiftly if we were to protect our flying programme and not disappoint our customers. Some quick thinking and bold decision making by our fleet planning and commercial teams meant that we quickly acquired four Airbus A330-200 aircraft and brought Sleeping Beauty back into the fleet now flying under her new name, Sleeping Beauty Rejuvenated. This innovative response, taken with our customers’ best interests at heart, protects our flying programme. We were able to acquire these aircraft and get them into service very quickly with our crew, delivering our onboard experience and our entertainment. Making this happen has involved just about every department in the airline. Too many people to mention here. But then again, the words on the side say it all. A great big Virgin Atlantic thank you.
Welcome back Sleeping Beauty.
Five fun facts about aircraft painting.
Air Livery are a very specialist company who take great pride in turning out gorgeous looking aircraft. Here are four little known facts about painting an aircraft:
- Each engine has 71 decals. These are mostly mandatory warning signs. That’s 284 for the four-engined Airbus A340-600
- The last job of the project is to paint behind the horizontal stabiliser. That’s the back wing. These move up and down to trim the aircraft in flight. Larry needs to power up the hydraulics on the aircraft and move the stabiliser so the guys from Air Livery can paint behind it.
- Although this is painting on a huge scale, the team touch up using these tiny paint brushes that you might use on a model aircraft
- Everything on this livery is sprayed on apart from the Varga Girl at the front and the crew wings at the back which are stick on decals. These have to be painted with edge sealer which protects the integrity of the decals by stopping the airflow in flight from getting under itl
‘Sleeping Beauty’ joins an exclusive list of Virgin Atlantic aircraft that have featured a unique livery, including ‘Austin Powered’, ‘Spice One’, ‘Lady Penelope’, ‘Birthday Girl’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Golden Girl’ and ‘Where’s Wally’.
G-VNAP comes with our signature three-cabin layout of Economy, Premium Economy and Upper Class, alongside our inflight entertainment system Vera with over 400 hours of films, TV shows, music, and games. There will be 308 seats in total – 225 Economy, 38 Premium Economy and 45 Upper Class.