Friday, November 6, 2009

V Australia May Order more Boeing 777's

V Australia 777-3ZG(ER) (37940/801) VH-VPF on
short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) on November 4, 2009.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

V Australia, the international arm of Virgin Blue, is understood to be close to announcing an order for 777-200LRs for new nonstop Sydney-New York JFK and Perth-London Heathrow service beginning in 2011.

CEO Brett Godfrey is in the final stages of negotiations with Boeing for an order of up to 70 aircraft that will include six 300-seat 777-200LRs, 737-800s and 737-900ERs for fleet replacement and expansion (ATWOnline, Sept. 22).

In February on the delivery of the airline's first 361-seat 777-300ER, Godfrey and Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson, the airline's largest shareholder, discussed major hub plans for Australia including the use of Perth for routes to the UK and South Africa.

V Australia has four 777-300ERs in service and a further three on order with seven options. In April it delayed two 777-300ERs because of the slowdown in air travel, with the fifth and sixth pushed back from 2010 to 2011 and 2012. Virgin Atlantic Airways had planned to launch LHR-Perth flights with 270-seat 787-9s in 2014 but the aircraft are now more than two years late.

Depressed aircraft prices are affording Virgin Blue an opportunity to fast-track expansion plans and tap into a resurgence in Australia's resource sector. In September it announced it was buying another 50 737s to update and expand its regional short-haul fleet but ATWOnline now understands from Brisbane-based sources that the total purchase will be for 70 aircraft and possibly may include 787s as well. Godfrey said at the time that it was "a great time to buy" and that "we don't want to miss the opportunity."

Over the past six months the global Virgin group of airlines has been working to improve synergies to offer passengers around-the-world fares and seamless transfers between the constituent carriers.

(Geoffrey Thomas - ATWOneline News)

No comments: