Colombian low-cost carrier Viva held a celebration in Bogotá last week to celebrate the arrival of its newest Airbus A320neo from the factory in Toulouse, France. Viva’s connection to the fight against breast cancer is personal. As explained in “Chapter 32 of the airline’s biography “The Viva Effect” by board director Rupert Stebbings, the fight against cancer has always been close to the company founders and leadership.
Co-founder William Shaw lost his mother to breast cancer. Viva’s first breast cancer awareness plane, a first generation A320 model, bore the name of Viva flight attendant Claudia Obando, and was piloted on its inaugural flight by an all-female crew. Executive Chairman and founding investor Declan Ryan lost his father Tony Ryan of RyanAir fame, and brother Cathal, an accomplished Airline Pilot and Captain to cancer, so the battle against the disease is in the airline’s DNA.
Viva uses its charitable arm, the Viva Foundation led by Monica Gil and Tatiana Vásquez to translate the airline’s operational acumen into direct action for social good, promoting equity, inclusion, diversity, and prevention, with initiatives ranging from teen pregnancy to breast cancer prevention.
“Flying differently makes us Viva, and landing with opportunities makes us the Viva Foundation. With the arrival of our new pink plane, we intend to go further, broaden the view of those social aspects that should be a priority for everyone, such as gender equality, inclusion and diversity, without leaving aside breast cancer, which has been our primary banner since 2012,” said Tatiana Vasquez, the Viva Foundation’s executive director.
Viva acknowledges that the airline industry has been male dominated, especially in the cockpit and boardroom, and it seeks to break paradigms by focusing on professionalism, skills, and team building regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.
“We want to go further, without leaving aside the cause of breast cancer that Viva has led in recent years, we are taking the next step by demonstrating our commitment as a socially responsible airline. This means we believe that we all have the same opportunities to fly higher, united in our differences,” said Viva CEO Felix Antelo. A message that we even highlighted before with our low cost model, the aerial inclusion and democratization of the skies, and that is even stronger today.”
“At Viva we believe that we all have the same professional opportunities and possibilities for growth, development and participation. We fly by and for everyone, and we are as diverse as the places we have flown to. We welcome (the aircraft) ‘Go Pink’, as a symbol that we chose in order to make these causes visible,” Antelo added.