England team to be flown to Qatar World Cup in ‘Rain Bow’ plane with LGBTQ+ icon

‘At Virgin Atlantic we believe that everyone can take on the world,’ says airline

Helen Coffey
Wednesday 16 November 2022 07:44 GMT
England squad travel to World Cup in Qatar on plane called 'Rain Bow'

The England football team will be flown to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar aboard Virgin Atlantic’s “Rain Bow” plane.

Aircraft G-VPRD, an Airbus A350, has the name “Rain Bow” emblazoned on the side, alongside the carrier’s LGBTQ+ icon, Oscar.

The icon is an illustration of a man wearing rainbow-striped trainers and pulling a Union Jack flag behind him.

Oscar is Virgin’s LGBTQ+ icon

A Virgin Atlantic Spokesperson said: “As a British flag carrier, we’re proud to fly the England Men’s Football team to the FIFA World Cup.

“At Virgin Atlantic we believe that everyone can take on the world.

“Aircraft G-VPRD, also known as Rain Bow, which proudly displays our LGBTQ+ flying icon, will be flying the team to the tournament.”

The A350-1000 Rain Bow has 44 Upper Class seats, 56 Premium and 235 Economy seats. It also has a social space called the Loft where customers and can meet and mingle during their flight.

It’s not the only airline using the World Cup flight as an opportunity to champion LGBTQ+ rights.

Lufthansa is making a statement by flying the German football team plane to the Qatar World Cup in a “diversity plane”.

“Diversity wins,” proclaims the Airbus A330, nicknamed “Fanhansa”, with a slogan painted across its fuselage.

The Lufthansa jet’s exterior features a colourful mural of people with their arms around one another, devised in partnership with German illustrator Peter Phobia.

A statement from the airline said: “Lufthansa is a byword for openness, tolerance, diversity and bringing people together.

“The company enables its customers from all nations and cultures to connect, and welcomes everyone aboard, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, nationality, identity or sexual orientation.

“And it is taking this same message – that Diversity Wins! – aloft and around the world.”

It follows years of campaigning by LGBTQ+ activists against holding this year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Same-sex relations and marriage are both illegal in Qatar; in recent weeks its World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman has said gay people “have to accept our rules here” and described homosexuality as “damage in the mind”.

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