DALLAS – Virgin Australia (VA) will receive its first Boeing 737-8, signalling a ‘major milestone’ in the airline’s fleet renewal and growth. The new jet, VH-8IA “Monkey Mia,” departed Seattle, Washington, on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, and is expected to arrive in Australia on Thursday June 29, 2023 (AEST).
Registered VH-8IA and named “Monkey Mia”, it is the first of 33 737 MAX family aircraft the airline ordered in December 2020. The order comprises eight -8s and 25 of the larger 737-10 models. The remaining airframes will be delivered over the next five years.
A specially selected VA flight crew, ‘experienced in taking delivery of new aircraft,’ will transport the new jet, almost 12,000kms from Seattle, Washington, to the carriers Brisbane Airport (BNE) base. The first leg of the delivery flight will be Seattle to Hawaii. VA will use fuel blended with 30% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) for this part of the journey.
“More Efficient Jet Services”
Regarding the delivery, Stuart Aggs, VA Chief Operations Officer (COO), said, “These new aircraft will allow us to grow capacity and support more efficient jet services. And importantly, they will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050.
“While our approach to decarbonisation is multi-faceted, fleet modernisation is a critical part of progressing our sustainability ambitions and represents a significant opportunity to reduce our emissions intensity in the near-term. We expect our fleet renewal program, combined with other fuel efficiency initiatives, to support over 80 per cent of our 2030 interim target to reduce Virgin Australia’s carbon emission intensity by 22 per cent.”
The aircraft will enter service at the end of July on the carrier’s new Cairns (CNE)-Tokyo (HND) route, which launches on June 27, utilising VA’s 737-800NGs. The airline currently has 84 Boeing 737 aircraft, including the -700 and -800 variants.
Streamlining its Fleet
Mr Aggs added that the MAX airliners would complement the simplified 737 fleet, which has an average age of 11.7 years. “This aircraft, which has a longer range than the 737-800 NG, will shortly join our new Cairns-Haneda route which is taking off for the first time today, elevating travel between Tokyo and Far North Queensland,” he said.
“As well as being more fuel efficient, the 737-8 is approximately 40 per cent quieter than the current 737-800 NG fleet and comes fitted with our new generation seats, which include device holders and in-seat power.”
The aircraft is on lease from China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Limited (CALC). Winnie Liu, Executive Director, Deputy CEO and CCO of CALC, added: “It is great to work with Boeing and Virgin Australia on the 737-8 successful delivery. The arrival of the first 737-8 not only marks a milestone in CALC’s history as it is the first aircraft type in our fleet but also boasts unparalleled fuel efficiency and gives strong support to the airline’s sustainable fleet optimisation program.
“CALC has been investing in cutting-edge technology aircraft models with a deep focus on sustainable and green fleet solutions. We will continue to drive energy-efficient aircraft models and contribute to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 with all aviation partners.”
Featured Image: VA’s new Boeing 737-8 (VH-8IA) “Monkey Mia” at Seattle, Washington prior to delivery. Photo: Virgin Australia.