Virgin Australia announces new fleet for higher capacity and lower emissions

Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
4 May 2022

Virgin Australia Group has revealed the first phase of its fleet growth programme, which will see four new Boeing  737 MAX 8 aircraft introduced to its network and F100 aircraft retired from service and replaced by Boeing 737-700s. This is an important step in the airline’s journey towards Net Zero.

The four new MAX 8 aircraft are scheduled to start flying from February 2023. They will reduce emissions by 15% per journey, compared to the current 737 NG aircraft. Each 737-700 will fly more passengers than the F100 for a similar amount of fuel, resulting in 30% less emissions per seat per trip.

The fleet programme is part of a broader growth strategy, which will see the Boeing 737 fleet (currently consisting of 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft) increase to 88 with the inclusion of four MAX 8 aircraft as a result of increasing demand. 

Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said: “We are on track to return to 100% of pre-COVID domestic capacity by June this year and expect to well exceed those levels by year’s end, and our resources sector and contract flying in WA is in high demand. This investment in our fleet reflects the increased demand we are experiencing in all parts of Virgin Australia.

Virgin Australia plane
Virgin Australia

“With growth comes a larger carbon footprint, so it’s vital that we take the right steps now to ensure that as we do more flying, we are also working to reduce our emissions. 

“We have a younger average fleet age than other airlines operating in the Australian market and we are in a good position to phase out our older F100 aircraft for more fuel-efficient options. 

“This fleet program is about making sure we capitalise upon that advantage as we work toward achieving our 33% domestic market share, strengthen our resources sector and contract flying, and continue on our journey to Net Zero.” 

As well as bringing sustainability benefits, the new fleet programme also presents a great opportunity for Virgin Australia team members.

Virgin Australia plane
Virgin Australia plane

“This program is as much about investing in our people as it is investing in our operations,” Jayne said. “We are committed to building this business and positioning it for success into the long term. Continuing to modernise our fleet and develop the capability of our teams across Australia to support newer aircraft is an essential part of that success. 

“Equipping our WA operation with more modern and efficient 737 aircraft positions us to grow and to better compete in the resources sector and contract flying market across Australia. It also enables Virgin Australia to improve fleet utilisation across the Group. 

“Existing F100 flight and cabin crew, VARA engineering and support staff and corporate and operations functions will be progressively trained to operate and maintain a 737 NG fleet, both as F100 aircraft are retired and as the airline continues to grow its WA resources sector and contract flying business.” 

Virgin Australia announced its commitment to Net Zero Emissions by 2050 in November 2021. As well as upgrading its fleet, the airline is actively building out its wider sustainability strategy, including investigating operation efficiencies, the use of alternative fuels, and waste management and carbon offsetting programmes.

Visit Virgin Australia to find out more.