Virgin Atlantic Cargo customers will get a further capacity boost from the airline’s latest aircraft order as the carrier become the first UK airline to announce a firm order for 14 A330-900neos. The carrier also has an additional six as options.
The new aircraft are designed to be 13 per cent more fuel and carbon efficient than the A330-300 they replace and will deliver a 50 per cent reduction in airport noise contour. Over a ten-year period, 2014-2024, the fuel efficiency of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet will have improved by 32 per cent, it says.
The order, valued at USD 4.1billion, is a crucial step in Virgin Atlantic’s fleet transformation programme which will see 100 per cent of the airline’s aircraft replaced over a ten-year period, creating one of the youngest fleets in the skies with an average age of just 5.3 years.
Of the firm order, eight will be purchased and six leased, as Virgin Atlantic continues its investment into increasing the proportion of owned aircraft in its fleet.
Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, comments: “We expect the A330-900neos to be another fantastic aircraft for cargo and will support our projected growth in the years ahead.
“This also includes our new contract for Accenture’s latest AFLS 8.0 cargo management platform to enable customers to interact with us digitally, the opening of our new state-of-the-art cargo facility dnata City East at Heathrow in September and the arrival of the airline’s first Airbus A350-1000’s this summer.
“Alongside our upcoming new routes to Tel Aviv, Mumbai and Sao Paulo, there has never been a more exciting time to be a customer of Virgin Atlantic Cargo as we focus on, and invest in, long-term growth and delivering outstanding customer service,” Kennedy adds.
The aircraft will be exclusively powered by the Rolls Royce Trent 7000 engine, drawing on more than 50 million flying hours of experience from the Trent 700, which powers the original version of the A330. The 68-72,000lb thrust Trent 7000, which entered service in November last year, delivers a step change in performance and economics compared to the Trent 700.
The aircraft will operate on both business and leisure routes for the airline worldwide with bases at London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Manchester Airports.
Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, commented; “2019 marks a return to growth for Virgin Atlantic as we strive to become the most loved travel company and the nation’s second flag carrier at an expanded Heathrow.”
In addition to announcing new aircraft today, Virgin Atlantic will welcome its first A350-1000 this summer. Further contributing to its growth strategy, the airline recently revealed its 27th daily service from London Heathrow and its third new route announcement this year. Flights to Tel Aviv, Israel, and Mumbai, India, are due to commence in September and October 2019 respectively, with flights to São Paulo, Brazil, starting in 2020, marking the airline’s first venture into South America.
Cargo has been an important part of Virgin Atlantic’s business ever since the airline was founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson 34 years ago. Today, the airline carries over 240,000 tonnes of cargo annually and, with a strong commitment to innovation and customer service at its core, Virgin Atlantic Cargo is recognised as one of the world’s most customer-focused and service-oriented airlines, earning 14 international Cargo Airline of the Year awards.
Headquartered in London, Virgin Atlantic Cargo trades in 37 countries and sells services to destinations in over 60 countries worldwide. Alongside joint venture partner Delta Cargo, they operate a leading transatlantic network, offering a choice of 38 flights a day between the UK and US which, in 2018, carried over a quarter of total trans-Atlantic air cargo volumes.
Virgin Atlantic Cargo is also the long-haul international cargo sales and management partner for Virgin Australia, connecting the two airline’s networks over Los Angeles and Hong Kong. In 2019, Virgin Atlantic Cargo’s volumes will benefit from a 22 per cent increase in capacity provided by the delivery of the airline’s first A350-1000 aircraft as well as the launch of its new Tel Aviv route in September.
Investment in new technologies will make the airline even easier to do business with, while in Q4 will see Virgin Atlantic Cargo and Delta Cargo move in a state-of-the-art cargo terminal, doubling the size of their joint Heathrow operation.
On May 15, 2018 Air France-KLM, Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Limited signed definitive agreements to combine the existing trans-Atlantic joint ventures. Closer cooperation between Delta Cargo, Air France KLM Cargo and Virgin Atlantic Cargo across the trans-Atlantic is subject to regulatory approvals and the receipt of anti-trust immunity (ATI) from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).
Once ATI is received, the cargo divisions will be able to start working together giving customers more choice across a broad network of passenger flights with joint trucking options and tailored products and services.