Virgin Australia have confirmed to Miles Down Under that its first redesigned Airbus A330 aircraft will launch in mid-August, with the full Airbus A330 fleet refit to be completed by early November 2015.
Updated to add: Virgin Australia’s first refurbished plane (registration VH-XFH) arrived back in Sydney on Saturday 15 August after spending two weeks in Singapore getting its new business class seats. The plane goes into service on Monday 17 August with a flight to Perth at 1pm. It will depart Perth the following day at 4pm, bound for Sydney.
This is a delay on the timeframe given when Virgin Australia’s new business product was originally announced in September 2014. At that time, the first aircraft was expected to be in service by March and the complete refit of the fleet finished by August.
Virgin Australia’s new business class cabin looks to be reminiscent of British Airways’ first class.
it will be interesting to compare the two once Virgin Australia’s offering is in service, even though it will not be a like-for-like comparison given that the British Airways is a first class seat on a four-cabin aircraft.
Virgin Australia’s fleet of A330 aircraft numbers six. The widebody aircraft are usually seen on weekday transcontinental services between Perth and Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The airline is pumping through the refit in a speedy sub-three month time-frame, replacing the existing business class Zodiac Aerospace 7811 seating (which are also seen on Singapore Airlines as their regional business class seats) on its A330 aircraft.
The new product moves to a reverse herringbone configuration which provides for every seat to have direct aisle access and to convert to a fully flat bed (as opposed to its A330’s current angle-flat sleeping option). As part of the reconfiguration, the business class cabin will shrink in size by four seats on the A330 aircraft. Further information about the new cabin is available in an an online case study by tangerine, a design agency involved in the project.
Virgin’s new business seating will go head-to-head on Airbus A330 aircraft with Qantas’ new business suite, which has been flying since the start of this year. Approximately a third of the Qantas fleet will sport the new Qantas business suite by the time Virgin’s new product is flying, but Virgin will quickly overtake Qantas given the small size of its fleet.
Virgin are also rolling out the same new business class seat across its Boeing 777 fleet later this year. As previously reported by Miles Down Under, to do this Virgin Australia is pulling its first Boeing 777 out of service for the refit on 27 October 2015 and expects to be done by April 2016.