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Virgin Australia Adds To 737 MAX-8 Order: Inside The Plane

Virgin Australia has increased its new Boeing MAX family aircraft pipeline. Six additional fuel-efficient MAX-8 aircraft will enter the Virgin Australia fleet, bringing the MAX-8 order to 14 and the total planned latest-generation aircraft to 39. Let’s review the fleet and go inside the plane.

  • The third MAX-8 arrives in Brisbane from the US. The remaining 11 MAX-8s arrive next year. One new aircraft will join the fleet almost every month in 2024.
  • New MAX-8s to enter domestic and short-haul international routes, including Fiji, Bali and Samoa.

The newest addition to the fleet, ‘Bronte Beach,’ arrived in the airline’s home city of Brisbane on November 24 from the US.

Virgin Australia 737 MAX

The 11 remaining MAX-8 aircraft will arrive throughout 2024, with delivery of one new aircraft almost every month next year. These new aircraft enable both significant growth and improved fuel efficiency.

New MAX-8 aircraft will reduce emissions by at least 15 percent per flight compared to older generation 737’s. It supports the airline’s 2030 ambition of reducing carbon emissions intensity by 22 percent and target of net zero emissions by 2050. The MAX-8 aircraft also features new interiors and is 40 percent quieter than existing 737s.

The existing order of 25 x MAX-10s, with an expected delivery in late 2025, remains in place. The larger MAX-10s will transport more passengers for a similar amount of fuel to current 737 aircraft. This results in 17 percent less emissions per seat per trip.

Virgin Australia maintains one of the youngest commercial fleets in Australia, with an average age of 11.7 years.

Interior Refurbishment Program Launches

In the coming days, work starts on a $110 million interior refresh and product upgrade across the airline’s existing 737s. The first refitted aircraft will come out of maintenance in Melbourne in early December. The project will be completed over the next 18-24 months. It includes:

  • Installation of in-seat power for all Business Class and Economy seats.
  • Installation of new Business Class seats, consistent with the new Boeing MAX-8 aircraft.
  • Installation of new or refreshed Economy seats, with seat design to be consistent with the new Boeing MAX-8 aircraft.
  • Introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi and complimentary in-flight entertainment (via a guest’s own personal device) to aircraft not yet upgraded for WiFi.

Virgin Australia Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer Alistair Hartley:

“Travel demand remains high, and we continue to grow and renew our fleet, enabling us to deliver great value and choice in the market,” Mr Hartley said.

“We are investing in our fleet to best meet our customers’ needs while positioning the business for success in the long-term. A more modern, sustainable, and streamlined fleet is central to our ongoing transformation.”

Inside the Plane: Virgin Australia Boeing 737-8

Virgin Australia recently announced a $110 million upgrade for its entire aircraft fleet and unveiled its futuristic cabin design. Introducing the Boeing 737-8 brought an eagerly awaited new Business Class and Economy cabin interior. Virgin Australia also plans to refresh the interior cabins of its remaining Boeing fleet.

Highlight features of the new Boeing 737-8 cabin interior include:

  • In-seat power for all Business Class and Economy seats.
  • Larger overhead lockers can stow up to 50 percent more carry-on baggage (individual guest carry-on luggage limits will not increase).
  • Wider Business Class seats also feature leg rests with extendable footrests, storage compartments, tablet/device holders, and water bottle holders.
  • A new Economy seat design featuring a ribbed backing to elevate comfort and ergonomics.
  • A personal tablet/device holder for all Economy seats makes viewing Virgin Australia in-flight entertainment, movies, and TV shows easy.

Interior Refresh Program

The interior refresh and product upgrade across Virgin Australia’s remaining Boeing fleet will be completed over the next two years. The upgrade includes:

  • Installation of in-seat power for all Business Class and Economy seats.
  • Installation of new Business Class seats, consistent with the new Boeing 737-8 aircraft.
  • Installation of new or refreshed Economy seats, with seat design to be consistent with the new Boeing 737-8 aircraft.
  • Introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi and complimentary in-flight entertainment (via a guest’s device) to most of the remaining fleet.

Virgin Australia is introducing a new seat configuration to enhance the travel experience. The airline will install a modern cabin divider between the Business Class and Economy sections as part of this update. This innovative divider will create more space in the Economy cabin, allowing for up to 12 extra Economy seats. Furthermore, the refurbishment will replace one row of Economy X with standard Economy seating on all Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Passengers can expect more seating options and a consistent guest experience across all Virgin Australia Boeing 737 flights.

Virgin Australia Boeing 737 seat capacity once cabin refresh is complete:

  • Boeing 737-800 and 737-8 aircraft (31 rows, 8 Business Class seats, 174 Economy seats)
  • Boeing 737-700 aircraft (23 rows, 8 Business Class seats, 126 Economy seats). This includes the new Business Class cabin on seven existing Boeing 737-700 aircraft, currently fitted with Economy seating only.

B737-8 Supporting Virgin Australia’s Sustainability Strategy

Earlier this year, Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka welcomed the first Boeing 737-8 aircraft into the fleet.

“Sustainability is so important for the future of the airline industry globally and fleet renewal is a major step in reducing carbon emissions intensity,” she said.

“We anticipate our fleet renewal program, together with other fuel efficiency initiatives, will support over 80 percent of our 2030 interim target to reduce Virgin Australia’s carbon emission intensity by 22 percent.”

In-Seat Power and In-Flight Wi-Fi Are Top Customer Priorities

Speaking about the new cabin interiors, Virgin Australia Group Chief Customer and Digital Officer, Paul Jones, said:

“In 2021, we introduced a prototype cabin interior on two Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and over the last couple of years, we’ve been able to obtain feedback from our guests, which enables us to enhance our entire Boeing fleet with the features that are most important to them. We’ve always said that we are a business that listens to its customers, and this is a testament to that.

“If you look at the business community, what matters most to them outside of network schedule is in-seat power and in-flight Wi-Fi, so I’m really excited that will feature on the majority of our fleet. There’s also a huge number of customers who fly with us for leisure who value in-seat power for a different reason – powering devices to keep their kids entertained or streaming on the latest must-see shows.

“With the reconfiguration of our cabin interior, we are also able to add more seats to the market without changing the legroom experience, providing Australian travelers with even more choice and great value airfares as well as a consistent in-flight experience,” he said.

Virgin Australia has undergone an incredibly successful transformation over the past two years, recruiting thousands of new team members, introducing 27 new aircraft (nearly 50 percent more than November 2020), new airline and loyalty partners, and millions of new Velocity Frequent Flyer members.

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