December 23, 2020
Out with the old, in with the new. As we come to the end of 2020, never have those words meant so much to so many. Here at Virgin Atlantic, it's been a year of big change for us, not least in our aircraft fleet size and shape. This was illustrated by two aircraft movements this week. On Monday we said goodbye to, G-VROY, our last Boeing 747 and our last four engined aircraft. Yesterday, landing at Heathrow, G-VTEA, our seventh and latest brand new Airbus A350-1000. This was a passing of the baton, from the old guard to new. When one chapter in our history closes and a new one begins.
No, this isn’t a boyband promo shot, these are engineers, watching G-VROY depart for the last time. Phil Wardlaw, in the middle, is our Vice President, Engineering and Maintenance. Either side of him, Denis Brailsford and Lee Butterfield of our aircraft assets team. They are part of the team responsible for bringing new aircraft into our fleet and decommissioning aircraft we no longer need. Those are big time-consuming jobs that generally take up to 18 months to complete for each aircraft. On a normal year the aircraft assets team might expect to handle a couple of aircraft, but 2020, as we know, hasn’t been a normal year. Since the beginning of 2020, this small team has overseen the return of ten aircraft and taken delivery of three new ones. G-VROY’s departure marked the end of this mammoth project.
Leaving our fleet in 2020: A340-600s G-VWIN, G-VFIT and G-VNAP, 747-400s G-VAST, G-VXLG, G-VROM, G-VROY, G-VROS, G-VGAL, G-VLIP, A330-200 G-VMNK
Joining our fleet in 2020: A350-1000 G-VDOT, G-VRNB, G-VTEA
The day after G-VROY, headed off into the sunset, G-VTEA, Rosie Lee, our brand new Airbus A350 landed at Heathrow for the first time. This was our seventh A350 and our last new aircraft delivery of 2020. It was a special moment for Paul Reilly, our aircraft assets manager, who looks after our new aircraft builds and deliveries.
“This has been particularly challenging over the lockdown period. Still, with support from colleagues and specialists at Virgin Atlantic and Airbus, we have achieved our tough 2020 delivery schedule” said Paul.
After arriving into Heathrow, G-VTEA will undergo a number of checks, some equipment installation, software uploads and engineering work ahead of entry into service in January.
Our seven Airbus A350 aircraft, along with our seventeen Boeing 787s, represent the latest generation of ultra-modern, long haul, twin-engine aircraft. The new aircraft are built using modern materials such as titanium and composites that make them lighter and stronger than their predecessors and are equipped with the latest-generation engines. This makes them much quieter, more comfortable and better for the environment than the aircraft they replace. With spacious cabins, lower altitude air pressure, bigger windows and dynamic mood lighting, jet lag is kept to a minimum. You’ll step off at your destination feeling more refreshed than ever, ready to head off on whatever adventure is awaiting you at the end of your flight.