Virgin Atlantic announced today that despite the current economic downturn, it plans to purchase an additional 10 Airbus A330-300 Aircraft. The purchase will allow Virgin Atlantic to expand its services prior to the delivery of their Boeing 787 Dreamliners The full media release from Virgin Atlantic can be read below: Virgin Atlantic, one of the world’s leading long-haul airlines, today announced a $2.1billion order for 10 new Airbus A330-300 aircraft which will be delivered from early 2011. Five of the aircraft will arrive in 2011 and five in 2012. 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. 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 emails 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% more fuel efficient than the A340-300 aircraft. Steve Ridgway, Chief Executive of Virgin Atlantic, commented: “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 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.” 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 1000 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.
Virgin America has been awarded the best Business/First Class Domestic carrier in the US in the recent Conde Nast Traveler’s Business Travel Poll. I am hardly surprised that a carrier with non-US roots has taken out this award, I am hoping this type of pressure will force the entire US airline industry lift its game, providing benefits to the airlines and its passengers. The Full Press release from Virgin American can be found below: Virgin America, the California-based airline on a mission to make flying good again, today took the top honors for “best Business/First Class” among domestic airlines in Conde Nast Traveler’s 2008 Business Travel Poll. The annual survey of the magazine’s business travelers ranked Virgin America as the top U.S. airline for Business/First Class service, as reported in the October issue of Conde Nast Traveler. Launched in August 2007, Virgin America has already captured a list of travel industry best-in-class awards, including No. 1 for quality in First/Business Class in the U.S. in Zagat’s Global Airlines Survey and “Best Domestic Airline” in Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards. “Virgin America was launched with the goal of reinventing domestic flying by creating an upscale, innovative and customer-focused experience,” said Virgin America President and CEO David Cush. “Business travelers should expect the very best in design, technology, entertainment and comfort in a U.S. airline — just as they do in their hotel choices. We couldn’t be more proud to earn this ranking in our first year, especially from the selective travelers who fly the most and who rightly expect more.” An independent firm asked more than 26,500 readers identified as business travelers to rate hotels, airports and airlines. Over 2,500 surveys were completed. Final scores (out of 100) represent the percentage of readers who rated an airline “excellent” or “very good.” Virgin America had an overall score of 65.3. The carrier’s nearest competitor (No. 2 in the rankings) had an overall score of 41.1. Virgin America features unrivalled amenities for the business traveler — including new planes with custom-designed leather seats, standard power outlets for electronic gear, and touch-screen seatback entertainment with 18 channels of live TV (including CNN, MSNBC and CNBC, accessed via touch-screen or remote control) and over 30 on-demand films, including the latest releases. Virgin America’s First Class cabin offers international-grade service and amenities, with priority check-in and boarding and plush white leather chairs with 55 inches of pitch and lumbar massagers. The Main Cabin offers custom-designed leather seats with a deeper, more comfortable pitch. The carrier recently announced a new cabin option, Main Cabin Select, that offers 38-inches of seat pitch in the exit row and in the bulkhead, complimentary food and cocktails, an all-access pass to the Red In-flight Entertainment(tm) system’s countless on-demand entertainment options, and priority airport check-in, security screening and boarding at available airports. Main Cabin Select will launch later this year. Virgin America currently flies to seven cities with daily flights from: SFO to LAX, SFO to JFK, SFO to SAN, SFO to IAD, SFO to LAS, SFO to SEA, LAX to JFK, LAX to IAD, LAX to SEA, and non-stop JFK to LAS.