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Virgin Atlantic detailed its succession plan for its current fleet of Airbus A330s on Monday during the first day of the Paris Air Show: It’s going to buy more A330s, but of a more advanced version that burns less fuel and has quieter engines.

Using the event as a backdrop, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss announced the carrier has placed a firm order for 14 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft with an options to take delivery of up to six more. At list prices, the deal would be valued at more than $4.1 billion, though airlines typically negotiate steep discounts on such orders.

The carrier will take delivery of the first of the A330neos, which will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, in September 2021 and expects to receive all jets from the order by 2024.

Airbus, Virgin Atlantic and Rolls-Royce executives announce an A330neo order at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.
Airbus, Virgin Atlantic and Rolls-Royce executives announce an A330neo order at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

The aircraft are set to replace Virgin Atlantic’s aging A330-300 and A330-200 aircraft currently part of Virgin’s long-haul fleet. Weiss said that the fuel efficiency of the A330neo was a selling point for Virgin Atlantic. The new planes are designed to be 13% more fuel and carbon efficient than the A330-300s, as well as being quieter — a 50% reduction in airport noise contour, according to Virgin Atlantic executives speaking at the air show. Over the course of a 10-year period, all of the carrier’s planes will be replaced, with the average age of its aircraft dropping to just 5.3 years.

Airbus, Virgin Atlantic and Rolls-Royce executives announce an A330neo order at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.
Airbus, Virgin Atlantic and Rolls-Royce executives announce an A330neo order at the 2019 Paris Air Show. Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy.

With this A330neo order, Virgin Atlantic says it plans to double its presence at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) — assuming that LHR gets a third runway, which is currently planned. Weiss did not comment on which routes the aircraft will fly, nor did he reveal the planned cabin configuration.

“We will be proud to operate the youngest, cleanest fleet yet, with an average age of just over five years,” Weiss said in a press release. “It also allows us to continue innovating for our customers to create an on-board experience we know they will love.”

Monday’s order falls on the heels of Virgin Atlantic’s order from October 2018 for 12 A350-1000s, the first of which it expects to take delivery of later this summer.

Among the details in Monday’s order,  eight of the planes Virgin Atlantic’s 14-firm A330-900 order will come directly from Airbus while the remaining six will come from from the US-based Air Lease Corporation.

Featured photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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