June 10, 2023

  • Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1041 (2)

    Virgin Atlantic
    IATA/ICAO Code:
    Airline Sort:
    Full Service Service
    London Heathrow Airport
    12 months Based:
    Shai Weiss
    United Kingdom

Particularly when put next with fellow UK service British Airways, the fleet of Virgin Atlantic is a a lot less complicated and smaller assortment of plane. Certainly, the fleet of British Airways is sort of eight instances bigger than the topic of in the present day’s article. Having shrunk drastically as a result of pandemic, let’s take a deep dive into the fleet of Virgin Atlantic.

The Virgin Atlantic fleet at a look

In line with Planespotters.web, these are the plane sorts working for Virgin Atlantic on the time of this text’s publication, together with their portions, and common ages:


  • 10x Airbus A330-300s with a median age of almost 11 years
  • 9x Airbus A350-1000s averaging almost three years
  • and 17x Boeing 787-9s with a median age of six and a half years

A number of apparent issues stand out with this record of plane. First is its startling brevity with simply three sorts. You’ll additionally discover that each one of those plane are widebodies, in addition to the truth that they’re all twinjets.

Certainly, lengthy gone are the handful of passenger narrowbodies operated by Virgin Atlantic. The airline stated goodbye to its lone Airbus A321-200 in October 2001, whereas it retired its previous few A320-200s (wet-leased from Aer Lingus) in September 2015. You might or could not have observed that we specified the absence of passenger narrowbodies. That’s as a result of the airline is at the moment wet-leasing an A321 freighter from Titan Airways, with the association resulting from finish in October. Its first foray into working devoted freighter plane, the cope with Titan sees a single A321 freighter working between London and Brussels.

Trendy twinjets

Virgin Atlantic operates two of probably the most environment friendly twinjet widebodies accessible in the marketplace: The Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. The 787-9s started arriving in October 2014 and the airline took supply of its seventeenth Dreamliner in April 2018. These jets have three courses and are configured with 31 seats in enterprise class, 35 in premium economic system, and 198 in economic system class.

The Airbus A350-1000s first arrived at Virgin Atlantic in August of 2019. Introduced in 2016, the order was for 12 of the sort which implies that the service is anticipating not less than three extra. Nonetheless, we all know that the airline is anticipating a complete of 14 A350s. This is because of an settlement for 2 extra A350-1000s leased from Air Lease Company (ALC). The service will take supply of those specific plane in 2023 and 2024, including to its present order with Airbus.

One notable facet of Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350s is what the airline calls “The Sales space.” This particular function is a comfortable nook accessible on the airline’s flagship the place prospects will have the ability to socialize and dine with one another. Passengers can even pay for a particular inflight wine tasting expertise with drinks supplied by The Unusual, a UK producer of wine and spritzers.

The Sales space was first put in on the A350 registered G-VEVE. The plane is called Fearless Girl after Richard Branson’s mom, Eve Branson. G-VLIB was the second A350 to have the function put in. Nonetheless, Virgin Atlantic desires a complete of three A350-1000s to have this particular Leisure Configuration.

On this subject, Corneel Koster, Chief Buyer and Operations Officer at Virgin Atlantic commented,

“We’re well-known for our onboard social areas and the introduction of The Sales space elevates the client proposition for our leisure vacationers to new heights. We love creating brilliantly completely different experiences, which is why we’re at all times evolving our concepts to supply one thing completely different and thrilling within the air and on the bottom.”

A330neos incoming

In June of 2019 on the Paris Air Present that the service introduced that it could be modernizing its fleet with the acquisition of 14 A330-900s. This order additionally included a further six as choices. Within the authentic announcement, these have been slated to interchange its A330ceos from 2021. The plan was for the incoming jets to be a one-for-one substitute of its 14 Airbus A330ceos (present engine possibility). Nonetheless, even earlier than the brand new -900s appeared, the service’s 4 A330-200s have been phased out. This passed off in 2020 with two of the 4 plane now being marked as “partially scrapped.”

As for the arrival of the primary of 14 A330neos, this could happen subsequent month – barely later than the unique 2021 entry-into-service plan. Of those 14, eight jets will likely be bought by the service outright whereas six will likely be on lease from Air Lease Company (ALC).

In early August, we reported that seats on these new jets had turn out to be bookable. The primary service to function the brand-new plane will likely be flights between London Heathrow and Boston Logan. The inaugural flight is about for October twelfth. The jets will function a 3 class configuration with 32 seats in enterprise class, 46 in premium economic system, and 184 in customary economic system.

The brand new jets will even embody a social house. Much like the A350 “sales space” however as an alternative referred to as “The Loft,” this will likely be an area for eight folks. The airline says that this may “enable friends to sit down and chat or get pleasure from refreshments from the brand new self-service fridge and drinks dispenser. Clients can even join Bluetooth headphones to the twin panoramic 27” touchscreens or utilise the wi-fi charging amenities for his or her units.”

The airline is changing its A330-300s with extra environment friendly -900s. Photograph: Virgin Atlantic

The newest information involving this new A330 variant passed off on August twelfth. It was on that day that the service’s very first A330-900 took off for an preliminary take a look at flight from Airbus’ amenities in Toulouse. As soon as delivered, the plane will undertake UK registration quantity G-VEWR. The actual airframe has producer serial quantity (MSN) 2018.

Goodbye quadjets

The 2020 pandemic had a large influence on the Virgin Atlantic fleet. Whereas we noticed carriers like British Airways and KLM additionally retire their Boeing 747s, Virgin Atlantic stated goodbye to its previous few Airbus A340 plane as properly. Moreover, given the already small fleet measurement of the UK service, the retirement of its seven 747-400s, two Airbus A340-600s (and the aforementioned 4 A330-200s) represented a lack of round a 3rd of the fleet. After all, given the large measurement of the quad jets, the capability loss was a lot larger.

An early departure for the 747-400s

The airline had deliberate to retire the 747 from the fleet in late 2021. Nonetheless, this was introduced ahead resulting from COVID-19. Virgin Atlantic states that its final 747 passenger flight had flight quantity VS608, and was a Covid-19 rescue flight, from Los Angeles to London Heathrow on March thirtieth, 2020 operated by G-VROS. Reflecting on the tip of its 747 operations, Virgin Atlantic said the next on its web site:

“We’ve had thirty 747s in our fleet through the years and welcomed tens of millions of consumers onboard. Our prospects cherished flying on them, and our folks cherished engaged on them. Plane fans eulogise about their form and basic strains. And but we’re speaking about an plane designed within the Sixties. It’s uncommon for a machine to have such longevity, and even rarer to garner such affection.”

The airline retired its 747 fleet in 2020. Photograph: Virgin Atlantic

Over the 36 years of 747 operations, 30 completely different 747s flew for the airline. This consists of 14 747-200s, 13 747-400s and only one 747-100. One 747-400 continues to fly for one more Virgin Group member, Virgin Galactic. This particular and really fortunate jumbo jet was modified after flying for Virgin Atlantic from 2001 to 2015 as G-VWOW. Nowadays, flying beneath registration quantity N744VG, the plane’s goal is to hold a rocket – named Launcher One – beneath its wing. Launched at excessive altitude, this rocket sends satellites into orbit.

Saying farewell to the A340

2020 additionally noticed Virgin Atlantic section out its remaining Airbus A340s: A pair of -600s retired in March 2020. Previous to the final A340s leaving, the service had begun slowly phasing out most of its A340s from 2011. In whole, the airline operated 10 A340-300s and 19 A340-600s.

Apparently, whereas the 747s have been eliminated barely forward of schedule, among the final Airbus A340s have been retired later than anticipated. This was the results of the Trent 1000 engine points that plagued Virgin Atlantic’s fleet of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.

Whereas the A340 is seen as a reasonably inefficient and expensive-to-operate plane, it does seem that among the ex-Virgin quad jets have discovered new houses. Of specific curiosity is the one A340-600 operated by Nigeria’s Azman Air and one other -600 operated by Venezuela’s Conviasa.

Modernization underway

With the arrival of the Airbus A330-900s on the horizon, Virgin Atlantic seems to be nearer to the tip of its fleet modernization journey in comparison with different full-serice airways. That is particularly the case once we examine the service to others – specifically, these working older 777s that are ready (and can proceed to attend) years for the brand new 777X. Whereas Virgin Atlantic’s plane modernization course of covers a ten 12 months interval, it’s not less than crystal clear which plane are being changed and the timeline on which issues will happen.

Have you ever flown with Virgin Atlantic Airways just lately? What’s your favourite plane from this fleet? Share your ideas and opinions by leaving a remark.

Sources: AIB Household Flights, Planespotters.web, Virgin Atlantic