Virgin orders 16 Airbus stretch jets
Saturday 02 August 1997
The 375-seat aircraft, which compete head on with smaller versions of the 747 jumbo jet, will include accommodation on two decks, the biggest "bar in the sky" ever and, for the first time in a commercial airliner, double beds for some first class passengers.
"The new design will be a revelation. The bar will be for all passengers, not just first class and there could be a small play area and a gym offering work-out and massage facilities," said a Virgin spokesman.
In a blow to Boeing, Virgin is now almost certain to cancel an existing option to buy 8 of the Seattle giant's 777 long-range jets, though the airline insisted it was still committed to operating a Boeing fleet. But industry sources said last night the 777 option was "a dead duck".
Mr Branson, Virgin Atlantic chairman, signalled his apparent concern at Boeing's dominance in the airliner market, following its takeover of McDonnell Douglas. "Boeing make excellent aircraft, but it is in the interest of both the aircraft industry and the consumer for them to have a strong competitor," he said
Airbus has already built four different mock-ups of the first-class accommodation, which will be situated alongside the luggage hold underneath the main passenger deck. The A340 was originally designed to have direct access from the passenger lounge down to the hold.
The A340s, which cost about $150m each, will spearhead Virgin's expansion into the Far East. Routes under consideration include Korea, Bombay and adding Virgin planes on journeys to Australia alongside an existing code- sharing deal with Malaysian Airlines.
The order is the first for the A340-600 since Airbus revealed the design at the Paris Airshow in June. It means the consortium can now press ahead with production, with the final decision on whether to go-ahead, due by October, now a virtual formality.
Airbus was given another boost yesterday when Air Canada said it had signed a letter of intent to buy five of the new planes, with a final decision due by next March. It has also agreed an option for a further 10 A340s. In addition, Air Canada indicated it would buy eight more Airbus planes with 20 further options, mostly replacing ageing Boeings.
Like all stretched A340s, Virgin's planes, which will be delivered from 2002, will be powered by a specially developed version of the Rolls-Royce Trent engine, under what amounts to an exclusive engine supply agreement.
British Aerospace will make enlarged wings for the plane, which means over 50 per cent of the aircraft will be manufactured in the UK. The jets will seat 375 passengers, similar to older Boeing 747-200s but less than Virgin's five 747-500s. The A340s will replace Virgin's six 747-200s, adding 10 aircraft to its 20-strong fleet. It said it also intended to press ahead with options to buy another two conventional A340s.
Culinary experts in The Netherlands thought it was 'fresh' and 'tasty'
Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance
- 1 As an ex prostitute, I urge all the political parties to commit to the Sex Buyer Law
- 2 Nokia no more: Microsoft drops once-ubiquitous mobile name – in favour of its Lumia brand
- 3 Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 Couple die within 28 hours of each other after being married for 73 years
Renee Zellweger on plastic surgery: 'I'm living a fulfilling life and I'm thrilled that perhaps it shows'
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
Banksy not arrested: Internet duped by fake report claiming artist's identity revealed
Diwali: What is the festival of lights and how is it celebrated around the world?
Nelson Bunker Hunt dead: Former world’s richest man dies in 'modest circumstances' in US after losing his fortune
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
iJobs Money & Business
£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...