DALLAS – The Virgin Australia Group (VA) will add four new Boeing 737-8 aircraft to its fleet as part of a fleet renewal initiative.
The fleet overhaul will also see the group phase out its Fokker F100 aircraft. While the VA says the new Boeing 737-8 aircraft will begin operations in February of next year, it also notes that the new types will help meet higher demand as the carrier expects to hit pre-pandemic domestic capacity by mid-2022.
Virgin Australia Group has announced plans to increase its Boeing 737 fleet by almost 50%, from 58 to 88 planes, since its re-launch in November 2020. Presently, the airline maintains a fleet of ten Fokker F100 airplanes across its Western Australian operations; however, starting in the first quarter of 2023, these aging aircraft will be gradually scrapped and replaced with 737-700s.
Jayne Hrdlicka, Virgin Australia’s CEO, said the fleet renewal initiative is part of the company’s overall growth strategy. “We expect to be back to 100 percent of pre-COVID domestic capacity by June this year and to surpass those peaks by the end of the year, and our resources sector and contract flying in Western Australia are in high demand. This investment in our fleet indicates the increasing demand we’re seeing across the Virgin Australia network.”
The airline will purchase an extra 25 Boeing 737-10 aircraft in the future, which will carry more passengers for the same quantity of fuel as the existing Boeing 737NG aircraft.
“Better Positioned to Grow”
Hrdlicka explained, “We have a younger average fleet age than other Australian airlines, and we are well-positioned to phase out our older F100 aircraft in favor of more fuel-efficient alternatives. By equipping our WA operation with more contemporary and efficient 737 aircraft, we will be better positioned to grow and compete in Australia’s resources sector and contract flying market. It also allows Virgin Australia to increase fleet utilization throughout the Group.”
While F100 planes are eliminated and the airline’s WA resources sector and contract flying business is expanded, VA’s current F100 flight and cabin crew, VARA engineering and support workers, and corporate and operations departments will be gradually taught to operate and maintain a 737 NG fleet.
Virgin Australia Group will keep operating Airbus A320 aircraft as part of its resources sector and contract flying operations in complement to its Boeing 737 fleet.
Featured image: Virgin Australia Boeing 737-8. Render: Boeing