Virgin Atlantic has announced that it is to continue its expansion by adding five new Boeing 747-400 aircraft to the Virgin fleet in a deal worth in excess of $800 million.
The new aircraft will be delivered to Virgin direct from Boeing between March and June 2001. All five are powered by General Electric CF6 engines to ensure commonality with the rest of the Virgin 747-400 fleet.
These new aircraft will contribute to the continuing upgrade of the airline`s fleet and will enable the airline both to add to its route network and increase frequency to existing destinations. Virgin Atlantic currently has 32 aircraft. 17 of these are 747s, of which six are 400s.
Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic welcomed the news:
“This fantastic deal will add real impetus to Virgin Atlantic`s growth plans. Having added destinations as far apart as Las Vegas and Delhi in the last year, I look forward to announcing the new routes, which these aircraft will enable us to open up over the next two years.”
According to John Lloyd, Virgin Atlantic`s Director of Cargo: “Today`s announcement to upgrade and expand our current fleet is excellent news for Virgin Atlantic Cargo and our growing worldwide customer base. The introduction next year of these additional B747-400s will provide freight agents with significantly more cargo capacity on a number of our existing prime routes, as well as allow us to introduce new destinations to our ever expanding network.”
Virgin Atlantic has grown by over 15% per annum (in terms of turnover) in recent years. The airline has added four new routes to its network in the last 11 months - Chicago, Cape Town, Las Vegas and Delhi - while increasing frequency on two others - San Francisco and Shanghai.