New global routes on radar
EXCLUSIVE Geoffrey Thomas Aviation Editor, The West Australian
Updated July 30, 2012, 2:15 am
Virgin Australia will order new hi-tech planes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, add more international routes from Perth and put its Airbus A330s on transcontinental routes to WA as it speeds up its transformation from a budget carrier.
Virgin chief executive John Borghetti told The West Australian that the airline was evaluating the 270-seat 787 and its competitor the A350 for introduction from 2017 on key domestic routes to Perth and international routes.
Mr Borghetti said WA was a key part of the airline's expansion and its new 275-seat A330s would take over all Perth to Melbourne and Sydney routes by Christmas.
The 787 and A350 are the first of a new generation of aircraft that are built mostly of a composite of carbon fibre-reinforced polymer.
The 787, which burns up to 25 per cent less fuel than the models it replaces, can fly Perth to London nonstop.
This month, Virgin Australia ordered 27 of Boeing's 172-seat 737 MAX planes that use 15 per cent less fuel than the standard 737-800s the airline operates.
The carrier has had a dramatic transformation over the past two years, with new planes, interiors, business class and lounges.
Mr Borghetti promised that travellers had "only had a taste of what is to come".
He also expected an increase in international destinations from Perth over the next two years as well as more domestic capacity.
The airline already serves Bali and Phuket from Perth and code-shares with alliance partner Singapore Airlines to Singapore and London.
On the radar is a service to Abu Dhabi to connect with alliance partner Etihad Airways' extensive European network.
"Either we will operate it or Etihad," Mr Borghetti said.
Virgin plans to move into the new terminal at Perth Airport, which is due to be ready by early 2014.
"If we were in the new terminal now we could grow our capacity through Perth even faster," he said.
Virgin Australia is offering business class seats on all its jet routes and will have a sixth A330 in service early next year.
New global routes on radar - The West Australian