Stories by Demola Ojo
As part of a fleet modernisation program which will see 50 per cent of Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft replaced in a six year period, creating one of the world’s youngest fleets, Virgin Atlantic and Airbus have announced agreement on a firm order, valued at $4.4bn, for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
Of the 12 firm orders, eight will be purchased and four leased, as Virgin Atlantic continues its investment into increasing the mix of owned and leased aircraft in its fleet.
The aircraft, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, continues Virgin Atlantic’s investment in a greener, cleaner, quieter fleet. The aircraft is designed to be 30% more fuel and carbon efficient than the aircraft it replaces in the fleet and is expected to reduce the airline’s noise footprint at its airports by more than half.
Virgin Atlantic President Sir Richard Branson said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the A350 to Virgin Atlantic. It is an outstanding aircraft from both a customer and sustainability point of view. Sustainable growth and meeting our carbon targets is incredibly important to us, and the aircraft’s environmental credentials were a genuine factor in our selection. We will be pairing its cutting edge customer proposition with our own Virgin magic to give customers the best possible experience.”
Former British Prime Minister, David Cameron said: “I welcome the news of Virgin Atlantic’s investment. As well as being good news for passengers, it’s great news for jobs in the UK. The fantastic Airbus A350 is part built in the UK with Rolls Royce engines and other suppliers across the country. It’s an investment in the UK itself, and our world-beating aerospace industry.” The A350-1000, which will replace Virgin Atlantic’s remaining Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340-600s, is due for delivery from early 2019. The aircraft offers outstanding levels of comfort and reliability, and the Virgin Atlantic model will be designed with its customers’ needs in mind. The airline is currently undertaking in depth research, including its customers in the process, to ensure it delivers the industry-leading experience for which it is known.
The aircraft will operate on both business and leisure routes for Virgin Atlantic worldwide with a base at both London Heathrow and London Gatwick. Initially the aircraft will fly to key US destinations from London Heathrow.
The aircraft will be delivered to Virgin Atlantic in two configurations – one for the business fleet seating up to 360 customers and one for the leisure fleet seating up to 410 customers.