Virgin Atlantic Spends $13 Million to Refurbish Former Air Berlin A330s
Through the summer of 2017, Air Berlin was still flying passengers across the Atlantic and throughout Europe on its fleet of narrow- and wide-body Airbus jets. I even reviewed the carrier's business-class product to New York (JFK) in late-September, but within weeks the Oneworld member was no more, with its assets making their way to other airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, which acquired four of Air Berlin's A330-200s.
Rather than keep those planes on the ground any longer, Virgin Atlantic quickly slapped its own livery and branding on Air Berlin's former fleet. These seats — the same I flew back when the planes were with Air Berlin — are still flying today, but the aircraft interiors will soon undergo a major refresh, to the tune of £10 million (about $13.35 million).
Those funds won't go too far, since they're being used to cover the retrofit of four wide-body aircraft, but Virgin has confirmed that it'll add a premium-economy cabin, with 35 seats each offering 38 inches of pitch. Business class and economy will get a facelift as well, though the changes there are largely cosmetic — it sounds like Virgin Atlantic will maintain the existing layout and shells.
For example, here's the business cabin from when it was flying with Air Berlin:
And here's what it'll look like after the refresh:
Based on the airline's description and renderings, the business-class seats, called "Upper Class" on Virgin Atlantic, will get a leather finish, along with a new in-flight entertainment system, including a touchscreen remote and 20-inch screen. All seats will continue to have aisle access, as they do today.
Virgin is maintaining its new seat branding, differentiating this staggered 1-2-1 arrangement from the herringbone Upper Class seats you'll find elsewhere in the fleet.
Economy seats will be reupholstered, and new adjustable headrests will be added. They'll maintain the standard 2-4-2 arrangement standard on almost all A330s.
These refreshed A330-200s will begin flying in November. The four aircraft — registered G-VLNM, G-VMNK, G-VMIK and G-VWND — are currently based at London Gatwick (LGW) and Manchester (MAN), flying to Boston (BOS) and San Francisco (SFO) in the US, and Antigua (ANU), Barbados (BGI) and Saint Lucia (UVF) in the Caribbean. Virgin Atlantic has not yet confirmed whether they'll continue to operate those routes or will be assigned to different city pairs once the upcoming renovations are complete.