The first of twelve Airbus A350-1000 ordered by the Virgin Atlantic airline was delivered Saturday in Toulouse. It will enter service in early September between London and New York.
The first Airbus A350-1000 of the British company (MSN274 registered G-VLUX), called « Mamma Mia », flew on August 10, 2019, from Toulouse to London-Gatwick airport, the day after the delivery ceremony. Virgin Atlantic has configured it to accommodate 44 passengers in business class (1 + 2 + 1), 56 in Premium (2 + 4 + 2) and 235 in Economy (3 + 3 + 3), or 335 seats, within particular a new Upper Class Suite business cabin notable for its lounge bar « The Loft », whose sofas will accommodate eight guests.
The Airbus A350-1000 is going to start service next September 10 between its base in London Heathrow airport and the New York JFK airport, without the usual short crew training flights since they were conducted at Finnair. Four of the twelve Airbus A350-1000 (Mamma Mia, Red Velvet, Rain Bow and Queen of Hearts, sporting the new Flying Icons) are expected to join the fleet at the end of the year; they will all be used between Heathrow and JFK, on four daily flights from early December. The remaining eight, expected in 2020 and 2021, will be deployed on roads not yet detailed; the last five, with an indoor « leisure » configuration, will be based in Gatwick and Manchester to serve the routes to Florida and the Caribbean, instead of the retiring Boeing 747.
Virgin Atlantic signed at the Paris Air Show in June an order for Airbus A330neo: eight Airbus A330-900 farms plus six options, which will replace from 2021 its four Airbus A330-200 and eight A330-300; In addition, it will take six A330-900 leases from ALC. In a Rolls Royce press release, Virgin Atlantic CEO Shai Weiss said he will be « proud to operate the youngest and cleanest fleet to date, with an average age of only five years. It also allows us to continue to innovate for our customers and create an onboard experience that we know they will love. » Virgin Atlantic follows the path taken by its shareholder Delta Air Lines (35 Airbus A330neo ordered).