Virgin Atlantic has announced an order for ten A330-300 aircraft to be delivered from February 2011.
At its 25th anniversary celebrations in Heathrow Terminal 3 today (June 22), Sir Richard Branson said that the new aircraft will be used on Virgin's existing business and leisure routes as well as new routes to Beijing, Cancun and Vancouver.
The US$2.1 billion order of A330-300 aircraft, which can each seat up to 270 passengers, are in addition to Virgin’s order of 15 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, which will arrive from 2013. Five of the A330s will arrive in 2011 with a further five in 2012.
Virgin says that the new aircraft "will feature the next generation of seats, which will be lighter and even more comfortable than those in the air today". Every passenger will benefit from a dynamic new entertainment hub, including USB ports and power sockets in Upper Class and Premium Economy cabins.
All Virgin Atlantic travellers will also be able to send and receive emails and texts on their Blackberries, hand-held PDAs and other mobile devices. Virgin Atlantic will be the first UK long-haul airline to roll-out this service across its fleet.
Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, said: “Despite the worst economic conditions in decades, we are focusing on sustainable growth in the years ahead, using the most fuel-efficient aircraft possible. Virgin Atlantic has a strong history of successfully investing during a downturn and our Airbus order 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.”
Virgin Atlantic has already secured financing for all ten aircraft via AerCap, the integrated global aviation and aircraft leasing company. Four of the aircraft will be on direct operating leases from AerCap.
Report by Tom Otley