UK carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways will introduce its Airbus A330-300s on its routes from London Heathrow later this month after delivery of its first aircraft of the type to be configured in a three-class layout, including its Upper Class premium product. Virgin launched operations with the A330-300 in April 2011 but until now has only been using two-class models on flights to Orlando from Glasgow, London Gatwick and Manchester.
The arrival of the three-class versions of the aircraft will enable the airline to replace its larger and less-efficient four-engined A340-300s and it has confirmed its initial operational plans from London Heathrow after revising its GDS availability to include the A330-300 on its schedules to New York John F Kennedy International from this month, New Delhi Indira Gandhi International from July 2012 and Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International from October 2012.
The aircraft type will make its scheduled commercial passenger debut at London Heathrow from April 21, 2012 when it will be introduced on the airline’s VS003/VS004 service to New York JFK on six of the daily rotations – the seventh will continue to be operated using an A340-600. The A330-300 will then be introduced on the New Delhi route from July 10, 2012 replacing the existing A340-300 on a six times weekly basis. The type will then be used to resume Virgin Atlantic’s daily link to Mumbai, which will commence from October 28, 2012. According to its schedule, ahead of the introduction of the Mumbai flight, the A330-300 will also be used on flights to Chicago O'Hare International between September 10, 2012 and October 14, 2012.
Virgin Atlantic currently has ten A330-300s on order and says the twin-engine jet will offer approximately a 15 per cent reduction in fuel burn per seat than the A340-300 which it is replacing. Its existing models are configured with 312 seats in a two class arrangement with space for 59 Premium Economy and 253 Economy passengers. Its new three-class configuration will have seating for 263 passengers: 33 in Upper Class, 45 in Premium Economy and 185 in Economy.