Virgin Atlantic Airways has expressed its confidence in the future with a $2.1 billion order for 10 new Airbus A330-300 aircraft. Five of the aircraft will arrive in 2011 and five in 2012.
"Despite the worst economic conditions in decades, we are focusing on sustainable growth in the years ahead using the most fuel-efficient aircraft possible," said Steve Ridgway, CEO of Virgin Atlantic. "Virgin Atlantic has a strong history of successfully investing during a downturn and our Airbus order today sends a strong signal that now is the time to invest, in order to help protect jobs and get the world's economy moving again."
The new aircraft, which can seat up to 270 passengers, will operate on many of Virgin Atlantic's existing business and leisure routes worldwide. They will also assist future growth, helping Virgin Atlantic to fly to new destinations from London such as Beijing, Cancun and Vancouver. The more fuel-efficient A330-300s, which deliver lower maintenance costs as well as substantial cargo capacity, will integrate with Virgin Atlantic's existing fleet of 38 aircraft and help the airline expand before the arrival of 15 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, from 2013.
Each of the A330-300 aircraft will feature the next generation of seats, which will be lighter and even more comfortable than those in the air today, Virgin says. Every passenger will benefit from a dynamic new entertainment hub, including USB ports and power sockets in Upper Class and Premium Economy cabins, which will set the new standard in in-flight systems.
All Virgin Atlantic travelers will also be able to send and receive e-mails and texts on their Blackberries, handheld PDAs and other mobile devices. Virgin Atlantic will be the first UK long-haul airline to roll-out this service across its fleet.
The new twin-engine A330-300s will ensure that Virgin Atlantic maintains its reputation for flying one of the most modern and environmentally friendly fleets in the world. It is nearly 10 percent more fuel efficient than the A340-300 aircraft. Virgin Atlantic has already secured financing for all 10 aircraft via AerCap, the integrated global aviation and aircraft leasing company. Four of the aircraft will be on direct operating leases from AerCap.
To date, Airbus has won more than 1,000 orders for the various versions of the A330 aircraft. Almost 600 A330s have already been delivered and the aircraft is currently flying with over 70 airlines worldwide. Virgin Atlantic is currently negotiating the engine selection for the A330-300. The manufacturers involved are General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce and the decision will be announced during the summer.