Virgin Atlantic orders 10 Airbus A330; 50 in the pipeline

Virgin Atlantic celebrated its 25th anniversary yesterday by ordering 10 Airbus A330 passenger jets worth $2.1 billion and is negotiating with the European aircraft manufacturer for buying an additional 50 A350 aircraft to be delivered from 2014.

Virgin Atlantic, in which Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group holds a 51-per cent stake with the rest being held by Singapore Airlines, has already secured the $2.1- billion financing for the fuel-efficient 10 A330 aircrafts from the Netherlands-based aviation and aircraft leasing company, AerCap Holdings NV.

Crawley, London-based Virgin Atlantic, with 38 aircraft in its fleet that fly to 30 international destinations, is one of the very few global carriers that have made a profit last year.

The order being only for the aircraft body, five of which will be delivered in 2011 while the rest in 2012, Virgin is negotiating for the engine with General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce Group.

Virgin Atlantic will absorb the six wide-bodied, twin-engine medium-to-long range jets while the remaining four will be taken on lease by the airline from AerCap.
"Despite the worst economic conditions in decades, we are focusing on sustainable growth in the years ahead using the most fuel-efficient aircraft possible," Virgin Atlantic's chief executive Steve Ridgway said in a statement.

"Virgin Atlantic has a strong history of successfully investing during a downturn and our Airbus order today sends a strong signal that now is the time to invest, in order to help protect jobs and get the world's economy moving again," he added.