Virgin boosts cargo capacity with new aircraft

Despite the current global financial crisis, British entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, a leading long-haul airline, has recently boosted its air cargo capacity with the announcement for a $2.1 billion order for 10 new Airbus A330-300 aircraft which will be delivered from early 2011 through 2012. Wong Joon San reports.

A330-300 AerCap Boeing 787-9 cargo capacity Richard Branson Virgin Atlantic

“The new aircraft, which will operate on many of Virgin Atlantic’s existing business routes worldwide, will fly to new destinations from London such as Beijing, Cancun and Vancouver. The more fuel-efficient A330-300s, which deliver lower maintenance costs, will provide substantial cargo capacity with each aircraft having 16 to 20 tonnes of cargocapacity.

“The new Airbus A330-300 aircraft will integrate with Virgin Atlantic’s existing fleet of 38 aircraft and help the airline expand before the arrival of 15 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, from 2013,” an airline spokesman said.

Virgin Atlantic has already secured financing for all 10 aircraft, each of which is nearly 10 per cent more fuel efficient than the A340-300 aircraft, via AerCap, the integrated global aviation and aircraft leasing company. Four of the aircraft will be on direct operating leases from AerCap.

Virgin Atlantic is currently negotiating the engine selection for the A330-300 with the manufacturers involved being General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce. A decision will be announced during the summer, Virgin said.

V Australia
In February this year, Virgin Atlantic was awarded the contract to manage the air cargo business of Australia’s new longhaul airline, V Australia. The service was launched as a three-times weekly B777- 300ER service between Sydney and Los Angeles from 27 February, increasing to daily on 29 March this year.