Virgin Australia announced (05-Jul-2012) it ordered 23 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be delivered between 2019 and 2021. The agreement includes the option for four additional aircraft. Virgin Australia also delayed the delivery of some 737NG aircraft to after 2016, leaving 31 scheduled deliveries of 737-800 aircraft for between 2013 and 2016. The airline expects all of its 737-700 aircraft to have exited its fleet by the end of 2013. Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said, "Virgin Australia is committed to maintaining a young and flexible fleet of modern aircraft. In the past year alone, we have reduced our average fleet age from 4.9 to 4.2 years. The Boeing 737 has formed a critical part of the Virgin Australia fleet over the past decade thanks to its reliability, comfort and fuel efficiency. The Boeing 737 MAX will build on this, enabling us to achieve strong on time performance and maintain our low cost base." [more - original PR]
Virgin Australia orders 23 737 MAX aircraft, delivery between 2019 and 2021
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When CAPA – Centre for Aviation held its first conference in Iran at the end of Jan-2016 the atmosphere was primarily one of optimism. Immediately preceding the conference the expectation was that Iran and the West would move to rapidly reverse decades of estrangement. The first round of sanctions against Iran had come down – in line with the historic 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement reached between Iran and the ‘5+1’ powers – and major airlines and aircraft manufacturers were coming to the table.
While it was acknowledged that progress on major deals was not going to happen overnight, the hope was that as layers of sanctions came down, Iran would be embraced by the rest of the world. In return, Iran was expected to open itself up progressively to foreign trade and investment, and to travel.
The road ahead was perceived to be one that was both a very different, and far easier, one than the one Iran had already travelled. Aviation in particular was a sector that was expected to shine and lead the way for a new era for the country.
Virgin Australia realigns its airline partnership priorities on new long haul strategy: Part 1
There have recently been important shifts in Virgin Australia's partnership relations, as Air New Zealand withdraws its ownership and the roles of Singapore Airlines and Etihad evolve with HNA becoming a substantial shareholder. As a consequence, Virgin is restructuring its long haul network for the first time in over two years. Individual changes are not significant, but they help tie up loose ends in Virgin's strategy. Virgin and its US JV partner Delta have been static since United and Qantas-American Airlines greatly altered the Australia-US market profile, a route which constitutes most of Virgin's long haul network.
Virgin struggled to find a use for what was essentially leftover aircraft capacity that it allocated to Sydney-Abu Dhabi as part of a JV with Etihad. With a limited fleet, North America beckoning, and Etihad seemingly losing some lustre since a Virgin-Singapore Airlines partnership, Virgin is having to cut Sydney-Abu Dhabi to free up capacity to relaunch Melbourne-Los Angeles.
Virgin will still commit to its Etihad partnership by adding three weekly Perth-Abu Dhabi flights on the A330-200, which will finally be moved out of the domestic market and deployed long haul. Since the end of the West Australian mining boom, these well equipped aircraft are no longer needed on transcontinental domestic service. Virgin's fleet of five 777-300ERs now will exclusively be used on Los Angeles.