Virgin Blue's new long-haul start-up V Australia has taken delivery of its third Boeing 777-300ER but it is considering postponing some of the remaining aircraft which it has on order.
V Australia's inaugural flight departed Sydney on 27 February and touched down in Los Angeles at 09:37 the same day. The flight was operated by V Australia's first 777-300ER, registered VH-VOZ. The start-up has six of the type on order and is sourcing a seventh on lease from International Lease Finance (ILFC).
Speaking to ATI during the inaugural flight, Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey said: "We've had our third aircraft delivered today. We've taken three aircraft in three weeks. The fourth one comes in June and is scheduled to open our Melbourne-Los Angeles service."
But Godfrey adds: "It's clearly the lousiest time ever to launch an airline. In airline history this is equal to picking 10 September 2001 as a launch date. We made the decision three years ago when the world was a different place. The sweet spot has clearly gone pretty sour at the moment."
The start-up is due to take its next three aircraft in February, April and October 2010, although this plan may be adjusted in line with the economic climate. Godfrey says: "We may well look to slow those down, at least one or two of them."
V Australia has options on a further six aircraft which kick in from 2011 at the rate of two aircraft per year.
Godfrey adds: "[Virgin Blue] is looking at talking with Boeing about moving all our future aircraft deliveries. We have 20 aircraft on order and our objective is to look very closely at that. I personally think this year will be tough and 2010 will be okay, but if we can delay the deliveries it would be irresponsible not to."