Virgin Australia in no rush to order 787 or A350

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Virgin Australia is no closer to ordering Airbus A350s or Boeing 787s to replace its widebody fleet.

Asked about the likelihood of ordering a new-generation widebody during a briefing on the airlines annual results, chief executive John Borghetti extolled the virtues of both the A350 and 787.

“The truth is they are both excellent aircraft,” he says. "I had the pleasure of walking on the A350 when it was here and I was stunned. But I’m equally confident that the 787 is just as good.”

However, he made it clear that the airline is “in no rush to make a decision on A350 or 787.”

Virgin’s widebody fleet consists of seven Airbus A330-200s and five Boeing 777-300ERs, which are deployed on transcontinental domestic and longhaul services respectively.

The airline will withdraw the oldest two A330s from its fleet in September, and take delivery of one new aircraft, meaning a net reduction of one aircraft.

Virgin Australia’s major shareholders Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines have both the A350 and 787 on order. Air New Zealand, which is a 36% shareholder in Virgin, has started operating its first 787-9 on selected trans-Tasman services.

Etihad in particular has foreshadowed that the aircraft it has on order could be utilised by other carriers that it holds a stake in, including Virgin.

Asked whether that was a possibility, Borghetti replied: “Yes, within legal bounds, absolutely.”

Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows that aside from the A330 that is still to be delivered, Virgin has five ATR 72s, 23 737-800s and 23 737-8 Maxes on order.