A Plane Called Mamma Mia: Say Hello to Virgin’s New A350
After spending eight days in Hangar C33, Virgin Atlantic's brand new A350 has finally rolled out of Airbus’ paint shop in Toulouse, France.
The A350-1000 is the first of 12 A350s to join Virgin's fleet. It is painted in the airline's classic livery, featuring Virgin's iconic script and red and white color scheme. As with the rest of the airline's fleet, the plane carries a unique name: Mamma Mia. Its tail code, G-VPOP, is also in keeping with Virgin's tradition of giving its aircraft cheeky or music-themed registrations.
An enlargement of the airplane's nose reveals the placement of the name, under the flight deck windows, which feature the A350's typical "raccoon mask."
Noticeably missing from the nose is the airline's famous Flying Lady Icon. Once it arrives in London, 'Zadie,' one of the five new Flying Icons, will be applied. The concept for Virgin’s original Flying Lady came from ship figureheads, with inspiration drawn from pin-up girls made famous by painter Alberto Vargas. The new faces, men and women, are meant to represent the diversity of modern Britain.
Aside from the new Flying Icons, the A350s will also be the first plane to feature Virgin's swanky new Upper Class suites, which should be a big step up from the airline's current product. Additionally, instead of an onboard bar, the new Upper Class cabin will feature a Loft space with couches and a small self-serve area. Although not that different from the existing product, Premium Economy and Economy will feature new seats as well.
Virgin has yet to confirm a specific date, but the plane is expected to enter service sometime in “late summer 2019.” The plane will first operate on Virgin’s flagship route between London (LHR) and New York (JFK) and then expand to LHR to Atlanta (ATL). The A350-1000, the biggest twinjet made by Airbus, will take the place in Virgin's fleet of the A340-600, an airplane whose business class we found cramped when we reviewed it in 2016.
All photos courtesy of Virgin Atlantic unless otherwise noted.