Virgin Blue is interested in purchasing Boeing 737-900ERs as part of a larger Boeing 737 order.
"We think the 737 is the perfect aeroplane for Australia in all its variants. The -900 holds some appeal, at the right price obviously," says Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey.
In September the Australian carrier announced it was looking to order upwards of 50 737s.
The -900ER can seat 25 more passengers in a single-class configuration than the Boeing 737-800, the next largest aircraft in the 737 family. Virgin Blue operates Boeing 737-700s and -800s in addition to Embraer regional jets.
Virgin Blue brands itself as a 'new world carrier' positioned between the low-cost and full-service markets. Low-cost competitor Jetstar, owned by Qantas Airways, operates Airbus A320 and A321 aircraft domestically. The A321 has a similar capacity and range as the -900ER. Qantas operates widebody aircraft on some domestic routes.
Godfrey says his fleet needs "major re-equipage from 2011 onwards". The order will also likely include 737-700s and -800s. He dismisses speculation the carrier is looking to order Boeing 777-200LRs and Boeing 787s soon for its long-haul carrier V Australia. "A lot of that was fantasy on the parts of those who spread the rumour," Godfrey says.
While aircraft price has declined in the past two years, Godfrey says the order would only be placed when the carrier finds an equilibrium between price and market confidence. Last week Virgin Blue said it expected to return to profitability in 2010.