Virgin Atlantic has announced a $4.4 billion order for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
The investment comes as part of a fleet modernisation programme which will see 50 per cent of the airline’s planes replaced in a six year period – making it one of the world’s youngest fleets.
The first Airbus A350-1000 is expected to be delivered in early 2019 and will be fitted with three class cabins – Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy. It comes with larger panaoramic windows, a spacious design tanks to an illuminated dome ceiling, cleaner air with an advanced filtration system and more space for storing luggage in larger overhead bins.
The aircraft is more fuel efficient than other planes, with the new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines generating 30 per cent lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to Virgin Atlantic’s current 747-400 aircraft. And the A350-1000 is significantly quieter than the airline’s current planes – it will reduce the noise footprint at airports that Virgin Atlantic flies by 52 per cent.
Over 70 per cent of the A350-1000 airframe is made from advanced materials combining composites, titanium and advanced aluminium alloys, creating a lighter and more cost-efficient aircraft with materials that are also corrosion and fatigue free.
“We’re thrilled to welcome the A350 to Virgin Atlantic,” Richard Branson said. “It is an outstanding aircraft from both a customer and sustainability point of view. Sustainable growth and meeting our carbon targets is incredibly important to us, and the aircraft’s environmental credentials were a genuine factor in our selection.
“We will be pairing its cutting edge customer proposition with our own Virgin magic to give customers the best possible experience.”
Fabrice Bregier, Aibus Present and CEO added: “This agreement allows Virign Atlantic to set the standard on its network by being among the first airlines into service with the A350-1000, with an Airspace by Airbus cabin, offering superior comfort including industry leading 18 inch wide seats in economy.”
Not excited about the A350 already? Here’s three fun facts that might convince you:
- You can almost fit an Airbus A330 inside an A350-1000 – the interior of the A350 is 221 inches across, while the exterior of an A330 is 222 inches.
- The wings of the A350-1000 have been designed to adapt during flight, changing shape while airborne to reduce fuel burn.
- The overall wing area covers more than two tennis courts.