Virgin Atlantic has signed an agreement for 14 A330-900 neos, with options for a further six of the new-generation aircraft.

The Roll-Royce powered aircraft will be delivered from 2021, replacing the carrier’s existing A330s, with eight of the A330-900 neos being purchased, and six being taken on lease.

The A330-900 neos will offer economy, Premium and Upper Class cabins, and will operate on both leisure and business routes to and from Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester.

The order means that 100 per cent of Virgin’s aircraft will have been replaced over a ten-year period – the carrier is set to take delivery of the first of 12 A350-1000 aircraft this summer, featuring an all-new Upper Class suite.

Virgin says that by 2024, the fuel efficiency of its fleet will have improved by 32 per cent (compared with 2014), with its average aircraft age halving to 5.3 years.

Commenting on the news Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said:

“2019 marks a return to growth for Virgin Atlantic as we strive to become the most loved travel company and the nation’s second flag carrier at an expanded Heathrow.

“A fundamental part of our strategy is collaboration with partners and our announcement today with Airbus and Rolls Royce, following the launch of our A350-1000 this summer, takes our partnership to the next level.

“The acquisition of 14 A330neos will play a pivotal role in our fleet transformation and it is testament to our sustainability commitment; by 2024, we will have improved the fuel efficiency of our aircraft by 32 per cent.”

“We will be proud to operate the youngest, cleanest fleet yet, with an average age of just over five years. It also allows us to continue innovating for our customers to create an on-board experience we know they will love.”

TAP Air Portugal was the launch customer for Airbus’ A330 neo last year.