More than 3,000 Virgin Australia team members and their families last weekend celebrated the arrival of the airline’s first fuel-efficient Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Fresh from the Boeing factory in Seattle and featuring that new plane smell, the Max 8 aircraft marks an important milestone in the transformation of Virgin Australia with its fleet renewal programme well underway.

The first Boeing 737 Max aircraft is one of 33 fuel-efficient Max 8 and larger Max 10 aircraft Virgin Australia has on order.

With the arrival of the 737 Max, Virgin Australia has also revealed its new business class and economy cabin interior, as well as confirming plans to refresh the interior cabins on the airline’s remaining Boeing fleet, as part of an investment of approximately A$110 million to improve the flying experience.

This will include in-seat power for all business class and economy seats; larger overhead lockers, with capacity to stow up to 50 per cent more carry-on baggage; wider business class seats which also feature leg rests with extendable footrests, storage compartments, tablet/device holders and water bottle holders.

The updated cabins will be available on all new 737 Max aircraft, and they will gradually roll out on the existing 737-800 fleet as those aircraft undergo refurbishment, with the work set to be complete in the next two years.

That said, the airline’s 737 business class seats will still be recliners in a 2-2 configuration, compared to 3-3 in economy.

Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, said she was excited to welcome the Boeing 737 Max into the fleet.

“It is wonderful to be here celebrating the arrival of our new fuel-efficient aircraft with the wider Virgin Australia family,” said Hrdlicka.

“We anticipate our fleet renewal program, together with other fuel efficiency initiatives, will support over 80 per cent of our 2030 interim target to reduce Virgin Australia’s carbon emission intensity by 22 per cent,” she added.

Speaking about the new cabin interiors, Virgin Australia Group chief customer and digital officer, Paul Jones, said:

“In 2021 we introduced a prototype cabin interior on two Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and over the last couple of years we’ve been able to obtain feedback from our guests, which enables us to enhance our entire Boeing fleet with the features that are most important to them. We’ve always said that we are a business that listens to its customers, and this is a testament to that.

“If you look at the business community, what matters most to them outside of network schedule is in-seat power and in-flight Wi-Fi, so I’m really excited that will feature on the majority of our fleet. There’s also a huge number of customers who fly with us for leisure who value in-seat power for a different reason – powering devices to keep their kids entertained, or streaming and bingeing on the latest must-see shows.”

At the end of June, Virgin Australia commenced a daily Cairns-Tokyo Haneda service. Going forward, the airline’s new 737 Max 8 is set to exclusively operate that route.