Today at the famed Paris Airshow, Virgin Atlantic placed firm orders for 14 new Airbus A330neo aircraft. The move is exciting on a variety of levels, especially as the airline transitions from an older fleet to one of the youngest fleets – if not the youngest in the sky over the next five years. Not only can we expect newer, quieter planes gracing the skies from the airline’s home base in London- we’ve heard a rumour there might be all new cabins designed too…
As the airline industry booms and booms, a constantly lingering question always centres around the environmental impact of “all that travel”.
At today’s announcement, Virgin Atlantic noted that by 2024, the airline will have achieved a 32 percent increase in fuel efficiency over a ten year period as new fuel efficient aircraft deliveries arrive. That’s a win for the airline, saving massive amounts of money on their largest operating cost, but also an obvious win for the environment by reducing the use of fossil fuels.
The move, valued at $4.1 billion, will also halve the age of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet, bringing the average aircraft age under 6 years old. By plane standards, those are very young birds and will put Virgin Atlantic amongst the youngest fleets in the sky. As rumours swirl of the airline potentially joining SkyTeam, having the newest seats and the youngest fleet is a dynamic combo.
At the launch of the A350-1000, conversations seemed to suggest that the beautiful new cabins installed on those soon to be delivered aircraft were just a first (albeit awesome) iteration. In other words, the airline wasn’t afraid to draw up something new and innovative if cabin technology or trends were to shift in the interim.
With bluetooth, wifi and personalization reaching new levels almost daily it could be very exciting to see what Virgin will install in all three cabins on these A330neo’s, be it full privacy doors, bluetooth headphone connectivity or a next generation economy seat, a la Qatar Airways. If anything, they just can’t come soon enough.