Virgin Atlantic Airways has placed a $4.4bn firm order for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.
Eight of the jets will be purchased outright with the other four leased. Virgin has selected the A350-1000 as a replacement for its remaining Boeing 747-400 and Airbus A340-600 aircraft, with the first airframes arriving in early 2019.
The deal was announced on day one of the Farnborough International Airshow.
Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger, said: “The size of this order demonstrates our absolute focus on investing in the future for our customers and our people, and confirms the strength of our business.”
“The A350-1000 plays a pivotal role in our fleet programme, helping to create one of the youngest, cleanest, greenest fleets in the sky.”
“We’re looking forward to introducing this aircraft to our customers, as its impressive economics, fuel performance, and quiet flying offer an irresistible proposition that makes long haul travel more enjoyable and better for the environment.”
Virgin intends to operate the A350-1000 on both business and leisure routes from London Heathrow and London Gatwick. The initial aircraft will operate to “key” US destinations from Heathrow.
Because the jets will be used on business and leisure routes, they will be delivered to the airline in two configurations. The business fleet will seat up to 360 passengers with the leisure fleet accommodating up to 410.
Virgin Atlantic President Sir Richard Branson said: “We’re thrilled to welcome the A350 to Virgin Atlantic. It 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 selection. We will be pairing its cutting edge customer proposition with our own Virgin magic to give customers the best possible experience.”
Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, added: “This agreement allows Virgin Atlantic to set the standard on its network by being amongst the first airlines into service with the A350-1000, with an Airspace by Airbus cabin, offering superior comfort including industry leading 18in wide seats in economy. These modern, efficient A350s will complement Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet of ten A330-300s and offer Virgin Atlantic crews the advantage of familiarity with Airbus operating procedures around the network.”