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DALLAS – Next year, Virgin Australia (VA) will double the number of its Boeing 737-8 aircraft in its fleet, bringing the total to eight to support its sustainability and growth programs.
Deliveries of the four planes will take place in the second half of 2023. VA doesn’t say if they are being leased or ordered directly.
The airline also placed an order for four MAX 8s in April for delivery starting in February 2023, although it made no mention of where those aircraft would come from.
The commitment to the type signals its return to VA’s 2023 fleet strategy.
Initial MAX Order
At the 2012 Farnborough Airshow, the carrier placed its initial order for 23 of the type. In August 2018, it changed ten of them into Boeing 737-10s, but it later claimed that it still had 25 -10s and 23 -8s on order.
The carrier changed its order in December 2020 in response to the pandemic that resulted in the company’s reorganization and ultimate sale to Bain Capital. All of the 737-8s were discarded, while the 737-10s were kept for delivery in the middle of 2023.
The MAX 10s are still on backorder, but their delivery will entirely depend on when the type is certified and whether or not it requires a revision of its cockpit systems if the FAA deadline of December 31 is missed.
The law requires that any airplane certified starting January 1, 2023, comply with the latest FAA crew alert regulations. According to the Times, the 737-10 is the only Boeing plane that does not meet the standard.
Due to the regulatory concern, Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun said in July that the company might be compelled to scrap the 737-10.
Virgin Australia 2023 Fleet
Eight Fokker 100s, two Boeing 737-700s, and 73 Boeing 737-800s make up Virgin Australia’s operational fleet at the moment. However, the Fokkers will be phased out until early 2023 in order to make room for the new Boeing 737-700s. The fleet will have 92 aircraft next year, including the eight MAX 8s.
According to airinsight.com, VA has obtained “priority access” to a CAE flight simulator in Jandakot near Perth in order to ensure that it has the pilots necessary to operate the Boeing 737NGs. This should ensure that the carrier has enough workers and boosts Western Australia’s capability for pilot training by 25% for about 200 pilots.
Featured image: Virgin Australia Boeing 737-8/ Render: Boeing