By James Wilkinson
More global destinations are on the agenda for Virgin Atlantic following this week’s order of ten new A330-300 aircraft.
Virgin Atlantic has ordered Airbus A330 aircraft
The Airbus A330s – set to be delivered from early 2011 to the end of 2012 – will boost the airline’s fleet to 48 aircraft and will arrive just prior to the first of 15 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners in 2013.
The new aircraft, which can seat up to 270 passengers, will operate on many of Virgin Atlantic’s existing routes from London and according to the airline, will be used on new routes to Beijing, Cancun and Vancouver.
Virgin Atlantic chairman Sir Richard Branson has previously announced his desire for the airline to fly to additional cities in Australia – such as Melbourne – however no new cities south of Beijing have been suggested at this stage.
By replacing long-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-600 with the more fuel-efficient A330 on existing routes where the range is possible, Virgin Atlantic could expand Australian operations.
For now, Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway said it was about being sustainable in deteriorating economic conditions.
“Despite the worst economic conditions in decades, we are focusing on sustainable growth in the years ahead using the most fuel-efficient aircraft possible,” he said.
“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.”
Each of the A330-300 aircraft on order will feature advanced technology and comfort, including next-generation seats in all three classes (upper class, premium economy and economy) and all passengers will have the ability to send and receive emails and texts on their Blackberries, handheld PDAs and other mobile devices.