It was an early morning flight from Gatwick as part of a very excited team as we welcomed the A350 to Virgin Atlantic’s fleet. Our order, valued at $4.4 billion, for 12 of the aircraft is a real investment in the future of the airline, our customers and our people. It is part of a fleet modernisation program which will see 50 per cent of Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft replaced over six years. As Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger added, we will be creating “one of the youngest, cleanest, greenest fleets in the sky”.
The A350 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 choice. The aircraft is designed to be 30 per cent more fuel and carbon efficient than the aircraft it replaces in the fleet and is expected to reduce the airline’s noise footprint at its airports by more than half.
As everyone at Farnborough could see, it's a beautifully built plane. You can just feel how unbelievably quiet it is when you're on board. It's got so much space and we can decide how to use that. The great advantage of having a brand new fleet is having brand new everything, and we're going to work to deliver an even better experience than we already do. We’re currently undertaking in depth research, including our customers in the process, to ensure the new planes have that Virgin magic, are beautiful inside and deliver on the industry-leading experience we are famous for.
As Prime Minister David Cameron, who was also at Farnborough Airshow, said, Virgin Atlantic's investment is good news for passengers and for jobs in the UK too. “The fantastic Airbus A350 is part built in the UK with Rolls Royce engines and other suppliers across the country. It's an investment in the UK itself, and our world-beating aerospace industry.”
The A350 is due for delivery from early 2019, and will operate on Virgin Atlantic's business and leisure routes worldwide from both London Heathrow and London Gatwick, initially to key US destinations from Heathrow. I can’t wait for the team and our customers to be flying high in our new fleet. Join us behind the scenes over on Virgin Atlantic's blog, Ruby.