Ã¢â‚¬Å“The new Airbus A330-300 aircraft will integrate with Virgin AtlanticÃ¢â‚¬™s existing fleet of 38 aircraft and help the airline expand before the arrival of 15 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, from 2013,Ã¢â‚¬Â an airline spokesman said.
Virgin Atlantic has already secured financing for all 10 aircraft, each of which is nearly 10 per cent more fuel efficient than the A340-300 aircraft, via AerCap, the integrated global aviation and aircraft leasing company. Four of the aircraft will be on direct operating leases from AerCap.
Virgin Atlantic is currently negotiating the engine selection for the A330-300 with the manufacturers involved being General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce. A decision will be announced during the summer, Virgin said.
In February this year, Virgin Atlantic was awarded the contract to manage the air cargo business of AustraliaÃ¢â‚¬™s new longhaul airline, V Australia. The service was launched as a three-times weekly B777- 300ER service between Sydney and Los Angeles from 27 February, increasing to daily on 29 March this year.
Virgin Atlantic is managing all aspects of V AustraliaÃ¢â‚¬™s cargo operation with teams based in Sydney and Los Angeles. On 8 April, V Australia added a Brisbane-Los Angeles service and later Melbourne-Los Angeles will be added from 15 September.
Virgin has decided not to operate its daily service between London Heathrow and Chicago for the winter season 2009/10 and will be suspending one of its two daily services between London Heathrow and Hong Kong.
There will be additional frequency reductions on some other routes throughout this period as the recession bites, and transport demand recedes. Despite the current global financial crisis, British entrepreneur Richard BransonÃ¢â‚¬™s Virgin Atlantic, a leading long-haul airline, has recently boosted its air cargo capacity with the announcement for a $2.1 billion order for 10 new Airbus A330-300 aircraft which will be delivered from early 2011 through 2012. Wong Joon San reports.
In June, Virgin AtlanticÃ¢â‚¬™s Branson said the airline will open more routes linking China as it further explores the potential of the growing market. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We plan to open direct flights from Beijing to London in two years and from Shanghai to Australia in 18 months,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said as the airline celebrated its 10th anniversary of the airlineÃ¢â‚¬™s entry into the Shanghai market.
Virgin is also talking with several Chinese airlines about flying domestic routes, but the airline said the discussions are still in the early stage and no timetable has been worked out yet.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo offers capacity on the airlines long haul services from Heathrow to Boston, Cape Town, Delhi, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Lagos, Los Angeles, Miami, New York (JFK and Newark), San Francisco, Shanghai, Tokyo and Washington, from Gatwick to Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Las Vegas, Orlando, Port Harcourt, St. Lucia and Tobago and from Manchester to Orlando.
The airline, which operates one of the worldÃ¢â‚¬™s youngest fleets of aircraft, deploys nine A340-300s, 13 Boeing 747- 400s and seven A340-600s. The carrier has also firm orders for 18 more of the A340-600s and options for 13 more and has firm orders for six A380s.
In another development, Virgin Atlantic, like its other counterparts has been hit hard by the global economic crisis, and is also cutting costs including cutting up to 600 jobs. The airline also plans to cut winter capacity by seven per cent compared to last yearÃ¢â‚¬™s flying schedule.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The outlook for the industry is as bleak as ever and all airlines are having to shrink their businesses. The fittest will survive and be in a stronger position when the economy grows. We will look to minimise the number of compulsory redundancies and ensure we treat our staff as fairly as possible,Ã¢â‚¬Â an airline spokesman said. The job cuts will beacross cabin crew, pilots, operational and administrative staff .