We’re delighted to reveal the plans for our new $5bn Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner fleet, continuing our investment in our customer experience. Flying from “˜old’ England to New England, the aircraft’s first route will be between London Heathrow and Boston, with the service scheduled to start on the 28th October and fly six times a week.
It’s 30 years since Sir Richard Branson took Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural flight across the Atlantic from London Heathrow to New York Newark on the 22nd June 1984. To celebrate this 30th milestone, the new 787 aircraft is named “˜Birthday Girl’ and features some very special paintwork. For the first time ever, our iconic Virgin Atlantic “˜Flying Lady’ will be displayed face on – and she is carrying a celebratory champagne flute!
Setting the bar
After the Boston launch, we’ll deploy our Dreamliners on other key London to US East Coast markets initially, with subsequent services between Heathrow and Washington, Heathrow and Newark and Heathrow and New York JFK scheduled to start in the following five months. As the fleet grows, the aircraft will also benefit passengers on longer-haul routes where the on-board experience and fuel efficiency benefits are even further amplified.
“We’re looking forward to welcoming this aircraft to our fleet,” said our chief executive Craig Kreeger. “For the last 30 years we’ve been proudly serving and delighting our customers and we know the Dreamliner will set us the bar to take that even further, bringing with it new innovations and a cutting edge product for them to enjoy.”
“The 787-9 will represent over half of our fleet by 2018, which demonstrates our commitment to the Dreamliner as the centrepiece of our future fleet. We’re looking forward to the next 30 years.”
Virgin Atlantic will be the first European carrier to take the larger Boeing 787-9 version of the Dreamliner, with the first aircraft planned for delivery in late September. Our aircraft will initially be configured with 31 Upper Class, 35 Premium Economy and 198 Economy seats.
Upper Class passengers will enjoy a new iteration of our “˜Upper Class Suite‘ which incorporates all of the popular features of this, along with some new design elements. There is a refreshed Premium Economy cabin with an even more comfortable seat design and a social space where customers can stretch their legs and mingle with other passengers – the Wander Wall. Economy seats will be best-in-class with the Recaro 3620 model. Passengers throughout the aircraft will benefit from access to wifi connectivity, with the latest in in-flight entertainment, and dynamic mood lighting throughout.
As well as the passenger benefits, the Boeing 787-9 will bring us major commercial and environmental benefits. Radically improved fuel efficiency means it is 21% more efficient on a per flight bases than the equivalent sized aircraft in our fleet, allowing it to be a major driver of both our return to profitability and our commitment to improve carbon efficiency by 30% before 2020.
It also has a 60% smaller noise footprint than aircraft of a comparable size, meaning large areas around Heathrow airport will be less affected by our operations with these aircraft. The 787-9 is key in achieving the industry leading commitments we set out in our Noise Management Strategy last autumn.
Further details around the look and feel of the interior of our new Dreamliners will be revealed soon.
Tickets to fly on the revolutionary aircraft will go on sale from this Thursday (26th June).