Virgin Atlantic is being tipped to place an order for new generation Airbus wide-body aircraft worth $4.3 billion.
The 12 A350-1000s would be used to renew the airline’s long-haul leisure fleet.
Virgin Atlantic is understood to be evaluating both the A350 and the Boeing 777 to replace the 747s that form the heart of its leisure operations at Gatwick airport with more fuel-efficient types.
The airline said yesterday that the process remains ongoing and that it will make an announcement once a decision is taken, Bloomberg reported.
Virgin is expected to acquire nine of the twin-engine aircraft directly from Airbus and take three from leasing firms.
The airline wants to take the new aircraft from late 2018 or early 2019, Erik Varwijk, its executive vice president, commercial, said in November.
While Airbus began A350 deliveries in 2014, the -1000 model is not due to be available until next year.
Varwijk said the 777 was also in the running, most likely the current version, since an upgraded 777X model will not be available until 2020.
Virgin is eliminating other four-engine planes to trim costs, ceasing operations with Airbus’s A340-300 last year and working on an exit plan for the A340-600. The last 747s based at Heathrow will exit the fleet this month.
The carrier has outstanding orders for Boeing’s 787-9 Dreamliner, with eight delivered, and remains on Airbus’s customer list for the A380 superjumbo, though it has deferred delivery of six aircraft ordered until 2018 at the earliest.
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