DALLAS – Virgin Australia (VA) has held a Family Day at its Brisbane Airport (BNE) hanger to welcome its brand new Boeing 737-8 aircraft. The jet’s arrival also allowed the airline to unveil its “highly anticipated” upgraded business and economy class cabins.
Around AU$110m (US$73.6m) will also be spent on upgrading VA’s older Boeing 737 cabins to align with the new 737 MAX fleet, of which the carrier has ordered 33 of both the -8 and -10 models. Work will commence later this year and take around two years to complete.
The new -8 is configured with 182 seats in a two-class layout. The business class cabin will feature wider seats with leg rests, extendable footrests, storage compartments, tablet/device and water bottle holders and in-seat power.
Meanwhile, the economy cabin has ‘a ribbed backing to elevate comfort and ergonomics,’ a personal tablet/device holder, and in-seat power. Both will also feature larger overhead locker stowage to hold 50% more cabin baggage.
VA’s older 737-700/800 airliners will have in-seat power installed, refreshed economy seats, complimentary Wi-Fi and IFE (via passenger’s personal devices) and a new business class seat.
A new seat configuration will also be installed on the older airframes by introducing a ‘new design cabin divider’ between the business and economy cabins. This will provide ‘greater floor space in economy and the subsequent installation of between six and 12 additional economy seats.’ One Economy X row will also be replaced with economy seating on the -800s.
The new layout will see the -800 fitted with eight business class and 174 economy seats. The smaller -700 will have eight business class ( a first for this type) and 126 economy seats. Seven remaining -8s will be delivered by Q1 2024. The -10s are planned for delivery from late 2024.
At the event, VA Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka said, “Today is also an important milestone for Virgin Australia as we grow and renew our fleet and continue investing in our onboard guest experience.
“Sustainability is so important for the future of the airline industry globally and fleet renewal is a major step in reducing carbon emissions intensity,” she said.
“We anticipate our fleet renewal program, together with other fuel efficiency initiatives, will support over 80 per cent of our 2030 interim target to reduce Virgin Australia’s carbon emission intensity by 22 per cent.”
Discussing the upgraded interiors, Virgin Australia Group Chief Customer and Digital Officer Paul Jones added, “In 2021 we introduced a prototype cabin interior on two Boeing 737-800 aircraft, and over the last couple of years we’ve been able to obtain feedback from our guests, which enables us to enhance our entire Boeing fleet with the features that are most important to them. We’ve always said that we are a business that listens to its customers, and this is a testament to that.
“If you look at the business community, what matters most to them outside of network schedule is in-seat power and in-flight Wi-Fi, so I’m really excited that will feature on the majority of our fleet. There’s also a huge number of customers who fly with us for leisure who value in-seat power for a different reason – powering devices to keep their kids entertained, or streaming and bingeing on the latest must-see shows.
“With the reconfiguration of our cabin interior, we are also able to add more seats to the market without changing the legroom experience, providing Australian travellers with even more choice and great value airfares as well as a consistent in-flight experience.”
Featured Image: VA took deliver of its first 737-8 on June 28. Photo: Virgin Australia.