Virgin Atlantic Expected To Order A330neo

Filed Under: Virgin

Reuters is reporting that Virgin Atlantic is close to placing an order for six to ten Airbus A330neo aircraft, as part of their latest fleet renewal plan.

As of now neither Airbus nor Virgin Atlantic have commented, but Reuters almost always gets these predictions right, so I think it’s safe to say that this is very likely to happen, and we can expect an announcement soon.

What would this development mean for Virgin Atlantic’s future?

Virgin Atlantic’s current fleet

Virgin Atlantic currently has a fleet consisting of:

  • 4 A330-200s
  • 8 A330-300s
  • 5 A340-600s
  • 8 747-400s
  • 17 787-9s

Virgin Atlantic 787-9

At this point Virgin Atlantic has a total of 12 A350-1000s on order (the first of which will be delivered shortly), which are expected to replace their 747-400s and A340-600s. So while 12 A350s is a sizable number of planes to take delivery of, it will represent a significant net capacity decrease when they retire their combined 13 747s and A340s.

Virgin Atlantic A330-300

I imagine the A330neo order would be intended to replace some of their older A330s over time, or perhaps even to add some capacity. Virgin Atlantic’s A330s have an average age of just over 10 years, so they’re by no means old yet.

Why the A330neo order would be interesting

The reason I find the potential for the A330neo to be so interesting is because the airline is already splitting their fleet renewal between Airbus and Boeing, with their existing 787-9s and their future A350-1000s. Now it seems they want to continue their fleet renewal with a third aircraft type.

This decision almost certainly comes down to cost. For what it’s worth, here are the list prices for the two versions of the A330neo, as well as the 787-9 and A350-1000 (though note that airlines literally never pay list prices for planes):

  • The A330-800neo’s list price is $259.9 million
  • The A330-900neo’s list price is $296.4 million
  • The A350-1000’s list price is $366.5 million
  • The 787-9’s list price is $292.5 million

Again, airlines never pay those prices, and the discounts they get aren’t even consistent across aircraft manufacturers or aircraft type. Often manufacturers want to push a specific type of plane based on demand.

So my guess is that Virgin Atlantic is getting a significantly better deal here on the A330neo than on the 787-9 or A350-1000, and that’s why they’re likely to go with that.

I’ll be curious to see if this order does in fact happen.

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic allegedly nearing an A330neo order?

Comments

  1. While 789 is around the same price and would represent further fleet commonality in their renewal fleet (789+A351 is a perfect mix IMHO) but aren’t there some significant tax savings by buying “domestic”? Not just on the aircraft purchase but also on MROs down the road? Maybe I am wrong but I’d think this helps in the equation.

    The current DL leadership also seems to prefer Airbus over Boeing and probably played a role in this decision.

  2. Virgin Atlantic operates 10 Airbus A330-300’s, not 8.

    It would make sense to replace the Airbus A340-600’s and some older Airbus A330-300’s with the Airbus A330neo – with the lovely new Upper Class suite too.

  3. When you quote list prices here does that include engines or are engines additional to this?

  4. Delta is in bed with Airbus. Virgin is controlled by Delta in the Skyteam Alliance. Delta has pull as they have also ordered the A330neo. This does not surprise me at all.

  5. To those above, if you are going to be influenced by an American airline, it might as well be Delta.

    BA though also seem to be improving, while their alliance partner American need to reverse the customer experience cuts.

  6. @Jeffrey Magnet is spot on.

    This smells Delta everywhere.

    On a side note, I guess 330neo won’t run into issues like the 737MAX where they are trying to squeeze life out of 50 year old design by using technology to defy physics.

  7. I actually find this surprising.
    Virgin Atlantic isn’t THAT large a carrier, as evidence by the current fleet numbers listed in this article.
    With this choice, they’ve kissed a perfect opportunity for fleet simplification goodbye.
    And while fleet simplification shouldn’t be the only criteria, I have to wonder what the wisdom is behind flying competing aircraft with similar mission profiles. 33N, 789, and 351 is a lot of high-tech airplane flying around!
    Also, with Virgin having been hit particularly hard by the current inability for Rolls Royce to make a jet engine run, I’m surprised they’ve gone for the 330neo from that perspective as well.

  8. Don’t forget the influence of Delta, who I believe now owns a big chunk of VA. Delta does not operate the B787 and this could be as much “fleet standardisation” as much as anything else cited in the article (they may be getting access to Delta pricing for Airbus products, for example).

  9. The A330 neo is far much better and spacious than the 789/350….2-4-2 in couch cant be compared with 3-3-3 in anyway.

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