VIRGIN Blue Group has signed an agreement with aircraft manufacturer Boeing for a fleet of new 737s.
Outgoing CEO Brett Godfrey would not disclose cost but says net pricing has improved from 2001 levels, allowing for a lowering of the fleet’s cost base.
“Virgin Blue was fortunate to see the opportunity and be in a position to take advantage, of the downturn in the market as we did back in 2001, to secure long term future supply of aircraft on attractive commercial terms,” he says.
The transaction has been in negotiation for nine months for 105 aircraft and constitutes the biggest aircraft order in Virgin Blue’s 10-year history and the Boeing Aircraft Company’s largest order in the past 18 months.
The agreement includes 50 firm B737-800NG aircraft (with flexibility to convert to either B737-700 or B737-900), 25 additional firm delivery positions secured as options and 30 future purchase rights. Delivery is scheduled from June 2011 through to 2017.
A significant percentage of the aircraft is intended for replacement of the existing narrow body fleet, while the remainder will be deployed to new routes and to boost frequency where demand dictates.
Securing this agreement now places Virgin Blue in a strong position to prepare for steady future growth as domestic and short haul markets recover,” says Godfrey.
“It will also ensure a turnover of aircraft to maintain the youngest fleet of modern aircraft which is crucial for maintaining our commitment to on-time performance and the lowest cost base possible.”
The aircraft will be delivered with Boeing’s new sky interiors with inclusions such as newly designed seats and IFE which will complement Virgin Blue’s ‘Airline of the Future’ initiative to be rolled out during 2011.
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