Virgin America announced (17-Jan-2011) a firm order for 60 new Airbus A320 aircraft to be delivered 2013 to 2016, including 30 of the A320neo – the first commercial order for the new eco-efficient engine option. This formalises and expands an initial commitment made at the Farnborough International Airshow in Jul-2010. With this order and growth from other sources, Virgin America's fleet will more than triple, from 34 to 111 aircraft by 2019. It is estimated that the A320neo's fuel efficiency will yield an average annual savings of USD1.1 million per aircraft. [more]
Virgin America places Airbus' 10,000th order: signs for 60 new aircraft
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The first commercial flight of the Bombardier CS300 on 14-Dec-2016, operated by airBaltic from Riga to Amsterdam, will be a major milestone for the Canadian manufacturer's new C Series aircraft programme. Three CS100 aircraft are already in service with SWISS, so the airBaltic flight will mean that both variants of the C Series are finally in commercial operation.
The programme is Bombardier's first wholly new aircraft development, aimed at the 100 to 150-seat market segment and offering advantages of fuel efficiency, cabin space, noise and emissions. Bombardier once targeted 2013 for entry into service, but has been dogged by problems and delays. In 2015, Bombardier seemed to have overstretched itself. The C Series received no new orders during the year and Bombardier was forced to seek investment from the Province of Québec to rescue the programme.
In 2016 the company has recovered to win a net 117 new orders, its highest annual total, bringing the programme total to 360. However, competition is cut-throat, with Airbus, Boeing and Embraer all having new developments of existing products in the same space as the C Series. Bombardier's breakthrough orders from Air Canada and Delta in 2016 required heavy price discounts.
Alaska Air Group and Virgin: Running two brands is a growing trend. Working them is the hard bit
One of the most discussed aspects of the pending merger between Alaska Air Group and Virgin America is how Alaska would navigate the sensitivities of dissolving the Virgin America brand, given the fierce brand loyalty that Virgin America engenders among higher-yielding passengers. Now it appears that Alaska is giving serious consideration to retaining the Virgin America brand.
Although sustaining two brands post-merger is rare in the US industry, the combination of Alaska and Virgin America is unique in many aspects – most notable is that both brands generate strong positive sentiment among customers. That has not been the case for some US airline mergers, where in some cases a less popular or less prominent brand was retired.
Despite the complexities inherent in running separate brands, there are valid business reasons for Alaska to seriously evaluate the pros and cons of adopting that strategy. One important factor is preserving the levels of revenue that made the deal attractive in the first place.