Now Flying: Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-900neo

Now Flying: Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-900neo

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It’s a big day at Virgin Atlantic, as the airline will today begin operations with its brand new Airbus A330-900neo.

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-900neo order

In 2019, Virgin Atlantic placed a firm order for 16 Airbus A330-900neos. This was part of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet renewal plan, as the airline looks to modernize its fleet with fuel efficient, lower capacity jets. The airline will take delivery of all of these planes between 2022 and 2026.

The A330neo is the updated version of the popular A330, and in the case of Virgin Atlantic, the airline will be fully replacing its previous generation A330s with new A330neos.

The A330-900neo is 13% more fuel and carbon efficient than the A330-300, with a 50% reduction in airport noise contour. The A330-900neo also has a range of 7,200nm, but that’s not really needed given the routes Virgin Atlantic will use the plane for.

Virgin Atlantic is taking delivery of 16 Airbus A330-900neos

For context on Virgin Atlantic’s overall fleet:

  • The airline has 17 Boeing 787-9s, which are an average of nearly seven years old
  • The airline has a total of 14 Airbus A350-1000s on order, which are the carrier’s new flagship aircraft
  • The airline has 10 Airbus A330-300s, which are an average of roughly 10 years old, and should be retired in the coming years
  • Now the airline is taking delivery of 16 Airbus A330-900neos, which will allow the carrier to further modernize its fleet
Virgin Atlantic has 17 Boeing 787-9s

In the past few years we’ve seen Virgin Atlantic retire its Boeing 747s and Airbus A340s. There are some impressive statistics surrounding this — fuel efficiency in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet has improved by 35% compared to 2010, and when the fleet transformation is complete in 2027, carbon efficiency will have improved by 27% compared to 2019 and 37% compared to 2007. That’s pretty impressive, and shows how much aircraft technology has improved over the years.

I do find Virgin Atlantic’s decision to have such a varied fleet renewal to be a bit odd, as the airline will fly three different kinds of long haul aircraft. It seems like there would be a more efficient way to go about that in terms of maintenance, crew training, and scheduling. I suspect this comes down to the airline simply ordering planes when the price is right, and sometimes that’s how things end up.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo enters service

On October 15, 2022, Virgin Atlantic took delivery of its first Airbus A330-900neo. The plane was flown from Toulouse (TLS) to London (LHR) in a flight time of 93 minutes. It isn’t taking long for the plane to enter service, as Virgin Atlantic’s A330-900neo will operate its first flight across the Atlantic today. If you want to track the plane, it has the registration code G-VJAZ.

The aircraft type will progressively be operated on more routes over the coming weeks, as Virgin Atlantic takes delivery of more of these planes. Specifically, you can expect to find the A330-900neo on the following two routes initially:

  • London Heathrow (LHR) to Boston (BOS) as of October 27, 2022
  • London Heathrow (LHR) to Tampa (TPA) as of November 2, 2022
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330-900neo delivery

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo cabins

Virgin Atlantic is introducing an all-new product on its Airbus A330-900neos. In business class, we can expect 30 Upper Class (business class) seats. They’re a customized vantage XL product with privacy doors, and are in a 1-2-1 configuration. Virgin Atlantic has a very similar product to what joint venture partner Delta has on its A330-900neos.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Upper Class

Virgin Atlantic is also debuting the “Retreat Suite” on the A330-900neo, which are the two center seats at the very front of the cabin. They creatively utilize space that would otherwise be wasted, and they can be booked up to 14 days in advance for a premium of £200 one-way.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo Retreat Suite

The A330-900neo also has a social area, named The Loft, available to business class passengers.

Virgin Atlantic A330-900neo The Loft

Bottom line

Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A330-900neo is entering service as of today, initially flying between London and Boston. Over the coming years, the airline should take delivery of 16 of these jets, which will be used to refresh the A330 fleet.

This looks like a significant improvement over Virgin Atlantic’s old A330s, and I’m excited to experience this plane myself.

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic adding the A330neo to its fleet?

Conversations (13)
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  1. E. Guest

    Will be flying this next summer in UC - taking my parents on a trip as a surprise for their anniversary. Very excited about it as I love Virgin and fly it whenever we go to London.

  2. Creditcrunch Diamond

    It will be interesting to see if VS still intend to begin retrofitting its B787 fleet next year as was reported in September 2019.

  3. Tim Dunn Diamond

    The 787 seems to be the odd man out in VS' fleet but VS made the decision to add the 787 given the best situation at the time.
    Given that the A330NEO is a lower capital cost alternative to the 787 for the medium longer haul routes that VS operates, they are undoubtedly looking at ownership costs more than a transition to fewer fleets.
    They only fly the A350-1000 so there is a...

    The 787 seems to be the odd man out in VS' fleet but VS made the decision to add the 787 given the best situation at the time.
    Given that the A330NEO is a lower capital cost alternative to the 787 for the medium longer haul routes that VS operates, they are undoubtedly looking at ownership costs more than a transition to fewer fleets.
    They only fly the A350-1000 so there is a clear rationale for an aircraft of that size and the 787-10 wasn't an option when they jumped on the A350.

  4. ladyolives Guest

    I've always been curious about how VS finances its aircraft purchases. The company has never really been profitable, or marginally so, yet it turns over its fleet every 8-10 years it seems.

  5. Eli Guest

    Ben, don't they have a few A 350s in fleet?

    1. SoSong Guest

      This article has nothing to do with the A350

    2. Eli Guest

      I guess you didn't read the whole article.

  6. Airfarer Diamond

    I'll be on that LHRTPA in December.

  7. Eli Guest

    I hope you are giving us a review in the coming days

    1. JB Guest

      Hopefully Ben flies it from TPA :)

  8. Frederik Guest

    Like so much these days, it is an improvement for the business class travelling rich people. The middle class in premium economy sees the seats shrink from 21 inches on the old planes, to just 18.5 inches on the new, and smaller armrests without space for 2 drinks now each passenger could do so on the old product.

    1. John Jacobs Guest

      yes or savvy points folks which is what this site is all about. why do people not post objectively. a question, a reference to the article and something of value. you literally added nothing with your comment

    2. Frederik Guest

      I make the point that it is wrong to claim the cabin is an improvement for the majority over the previous cabin, and Ben has not mentioned once the huge downgrade of premium economy seating and space from previously class leading. This is only an improvement at the very front of the plane. Your complaint of my point is a typical attitude of many wealthy westerners today, in that you only focus on the top...

      I make the point that it is wrong to claim the cabin is an improvement for the majority over the previous cabin, and Ben has not mentioned once the huge downgrade of premium economy seating and space from previously class leading. This is only an improvement at the very front of the plane. Your complaint of my point is a typical attitude of many wealthy westerners today, in that you only focus on the top percentage, this is how we have had the populist backlash in the west, and if you could think more critically, you would see how much this trend of focusing on the very front only and to the detriment of the back links to wider society. So much ignorance around, and it would be nice if it could be acknowledged, when other cabins are downgraded even if the very front is being improved.
      Also if nobody ever reports the downgrading of premium economy or economy, it gives airlines no incentive to keep the other cabin standards at the quality they once were.
      I reject the claim it adds no value to emphasise the Point that they are downgrading the more affordable cabins people use, and many of the readers like me are using our miles and ‘savvy points’ so we can afford premium economy not necessarily business class.

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Eli Guest

I guess you didn't read the whole article.

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JB Guest

Hopefully Ben flies it from TPA :)

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Frederik Guest

I make the point that it is wrong to claim the cabin is an improvement for the majority over the previous cabin, and Ben has not mentioned once the huge downgrade of premium economy seating and space from previously class leading. This is only an improvement at the very front of the plane. Your complaint of my point is a typical attitude of many wealthy westerners today, in that you only focus on the top percentage, this is how we have had the populist backlash in the west, and if you could think more critically, you would see how much this trend of focusing on the very front only and to the detriment of the back links to wider society. So much ignorance around, and it would be nice if it could be acknowledged, when other cabins are downgraded even if the very front is being improved. Also if nobody ever reports the downgrading of premium economy or economy, it gives airlines no incentive to keep the other cabin standards at the quality they once were. I reject the claim it adds no value to emphasise the Point that they are downgrading the more affordable cabins people use, and many of the readers like me are using our miles and ‘savvy points’ so we can afford premium economy not necessarily business class.

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