MIAMI — Virgin America has announced today the lease from GECAS of 10 Airbus A321neo, slated for delivery in the first quarter of 2017 and up to the third quarter of 2018.
“As Virgin America continues to grow its network, there’s no question the Airbus A321neo is the right aircraft for us, and we were pleased to work with GECAS to make today possible,” said Virgin America President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) David Cush. With this planned delivery schedule, Virgin America is expected to become the first American carrier to operate this new generation of single-aisle aircraft, to be powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines.
The arrival of the A321neo will allow Virgin America to increase its seats offered and lower its unit costs in Hawaii high-demand routes, as well as in slot-constrained airports such as New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“Not only will these aircraft allow us to further reduce our unit costs and improve our revenue position, they demonstrate our continued commitment to reducing carbon emissions and creating an even more sustainable airline” Cush said.
The aircraft will be configured for Virgin America to include 185 total seats, roughly 24 percent more seating capacity than the airline’s existing fleet of 47 A320 aircraft in service, and 36 percent more in the case of its A319s. In 2016, the carrier expects to grow its fleet by 10 percent, by adding six additional A320ceos, taking the fleet size to 63 aircraft, just before the arrival of the A321neos. According to the airline, operating a single fleet type allows the carrier to avoid operational costs and complexity inherent to maintaining different fleet types.
As of last November, Airbus has logged 4,443 A320neo orders. Deliveries are expected to start before Christmas to launch customer Lufthansa, which has swapped places with Qatar Airways to be the first airline in the world operate an A320neo. Indian LCC IndiGo is slated to be next. Spirit Airlines will be the first U.S. carrier to receive the A320neo in the first quarter of 2016.