Lady Freedom: Virgin Atlantic names new aircraft in honour of global icon Nelson Mandela

Virgin Atlantic is proud to announce that it has named its newest Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft ‘Lady Freedom’, in honour of good friend and global icon, Nelson Mandela.


To celebrate the friendship between Virgin Atlantic founder, Sir Richard Branson and former South African President, Nelson Mandela, and to commemorate what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, Virgin Atlantic has named an aircraft after the renowned global icon.

‘Lady Freedom’ came into service in March 2018, and honours Mandela’s legacy of freedom and equality.

25 years ago, a formidable and unexpected friendship was formed between Branson and Mandela. This friendship is, in fact, how Virgin first landed on African soil. Co-incidentally, the pair also share the same birth date, July 18th, which has fondly been dubbed ‘Madiba Day’ in South Africa.

Liezl Gericke, Head of Middle East and Africa for Virgin Atlantic, commented: “The unique designs and names on the sides of our planes are one of the playful little touches that really make people smile when they fly with Virgin Atlantic, and we’re delighted to add a bit of South African heritage to our fleet. Former President Nelson Mandela fought for freedom and equality – two values that are strongly shared by Virgin Atlantic – and so it seems only apt that we name one of our beautiful 787 Dreamliners after this legacy.”

In addition to naming Lady Freedom, Virgin Atlantic is also donating all charity donations collected on the VS601 and VS602 during the month of July, to The Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund.

Established in 1995 by former President Mandela, the Fund aims to help change the ways in which society treats its children and youth in order to improve their conditions and lives through child survival and development, child safety and protection, youth leadership, and sustainable livelihood programmes to inform policy reforms through advocacy.

Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, notes: “We’re grateful and excited to be partnering with Virgin Atlantic for the month of July. The world is celebrating Mandela’s centenary in 2018, and we’re grateful to be able to continue his legacy, by contributing to solutions that make a difference, and building a strong foundation for children.”

Virgin Atlantic was founded by entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson 34 years ago with innovation and customer service at its core. Today Virgin Atlantic carries 5.5 million customers annually, and was recently named the UK’s favourite long haul carrier by Skytrax, Best Transatlantic Airline at the British Travel Awards 2017 and one of the Top 5 Airlines in the World by Airline Ratings.

Headquartered in London, Virgin Atlantic employs over 10,000 people worldwide and operates a fleet of 47 aircraft serving 25 destinations across four continents. Alongside joint venture partner Delta Air Lines they operate a leading transatlantic network – offering up to 38 flights per day between the UK and US with onward connections to over 200 US and international cities.

Lady Freedom: Virgin Atlantic names new aircraft in honour of global icon Nelson Mandela

About the Boeing 787 Dreamliner:

  • More sustainable; produces 20% less CO2 emissions than similarly sized aircraft.
  • Quieter engines, so there’s less impact for people living near airports. In fact, Virgin Atlantic has become the first ever airline to be awarded the prestigious Quiet Mark certification, for our 787s.
  • Made from 50% composite, so there’s less waste produced during manufacturing.
  • Mood lighting throughout the cabins gives a warm, welcoming feel that helps customers feel relaxed and at home.
  • Onboard WiFi across all cabins. Surf, text, chat, send that important email or research your dream destination.
  • Lower cabin altitude (6,000ft compared to 8,000ft) and higher cabin humidity levels help the air onboard feel more comfortable and less dry. So customers feel less tired and arrive feeling fresher.
  • Helps us fly further, for longer compared to other medium sized aircraft, getting your customers to all their favourite destinations more easily.
  • Smoother Ride Technology senses turbulence and adjusts the flight systems to reduce the chance of motion sickness.
  • The largest cabin windows of any aircraft flying today (65% larger than the industry standard), give an amazing view. They are also electronically dimmable which allow crew to adjust the onboard experience to the destination arrival time, helping reduce jetlag.

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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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