Virgin Atlantic could expand fleet in deal to replaces 747s

Thu Jun 11, 2015 4:24pm EDT
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By Joseph White

DETROIT - (Reuters) - Virgin Atlantic [VA.UL] plans to decide within six months on how to replace seven Boeing 747s it flies from London’s Gatwick airport, and could expand its overall fleet in the process, the British airline’s chief executive said Thursday.

“The options we are most serious about are the (Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote)) A350, the (Boeing (BA.N: Quote)) 787-10 and 777-300ER jets. Those are the aircraft we are most likely to choose,” CEO Craig Kreeger said in an interview ahead of the airline’s formal launch of service between London and Detroit.

When Virgin Atlantic decides, he said, the order “will be replacement, plus.”

Kreeger told a conference in November that Virgin would decide on the fleet plan within the next nine months, implying a decision by the end of August.

Virgin Atlantic has 39 planes, and is renewing its fleet after returning to profitability last year. Virgin has ordered 17 Boeing 787s as part of that process.

Virgin is still deferring a decision on whether to take six Airbus A380 jumbo jets, Kreeger said.

“We have not yet concluded that we have enough markets that are big enough to make the A380 make sense,” Kreeger said. Virgin is discussing options with Airbus, and will continue to evaluate the A380 order.

    Virgin’s service to Detroit is part of a broader expansion of the airline’s trans-Atlantic service in collaboration with U.S. airline Delta Air Lines, which owns a 49 percent stake.   Continued...

A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400 lands as a United Airlines Boeing 767 taxis at San Francisco International Airport, San Francisco, California, February 13, 2015. REUTERS/Louis Nastro