Virgin Blue Airlines has taken delivery of its first owned aircraft after establishing itself as one of the most successful and profitable airlines in the global aviation industry.
The B737-800 aircraft touched down at its new Brisbane-based home after being handed over to Virgin Blue direct from the Boeing factory in Seattle. The aircraft arrived in Australia after a brief stop-over in New Zealand where it was “virginised” with the installation of state-of-the-art “winglets”.
The aircraft, with a market value of US $62-million, is the first to be owned by Virgin Blue following a purchase agreement with Boeing which includes another 9 aircraft scheduled to arrive over the next 12 months.
Virgin Blue secured the financing through the Royal Bank of Scotland, with support from the US Import/Export Bank as guarantor.
Chief Executive Brett Godfrey, said, “This is a significant milestone for Virgin Blue as we move towards balancing our fleet of leased and owned aircraft.”
“The backing of such highly regarded financial institutions such as The Royal Bank of Scotland and the US Import/Export Bank illustrates the strength of Virgin Blue’s business plan and we look forward to developing a long term relationship with both banks.”
The financing agreement was executed in Australian dollars.
Brett Godfrey added, “These brand new aircraft are the most cost-effective and efficient option for Virgin Blue and, with comfortable leather seats and in-flight audio entertainment, they are proving a hugely popular option with our Guests.
“Having modern new jets is also a key factor in our reliability and strong on-time performance record and we consider these new aircraft to be a valuable investment for our airline.”
Virgin Blue’s existing aircraft are leased through various lessors, including Boullion, CIT, GECAS, ILFC and Tombo. The arrival of the first owned aircraft takes the fleet to 32.
The aircraft has trans-continental capabilities in line with Virgin Blue’s plans to launch international flights later this year.