Virgin orders two more A340-600s, adding new routes

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Virgin Atlantic Airways has ordered two more Airbus A340-600s and unveiled plans for new routes to the Bahamas and Cuba.

The UK carrier says in a statement that the additional A340-600 commitments give it outstanding orders for six of the type, for delivery over the next two years. It already operates six.

“The new aircraft will be instrumental in fulfilling Virgin’s plans for continued growth and will also continue our goal of operating one of the youngest fleets in world aviation,” says chairman Richard Branson.

He says that in the coming months Virgin plans to launch new routes serving Havana in Cuba and Nassau in the Bahamas, adding that “we’re evaluating some further new destinations”.

Weekly services to Nassau will be operated from 18 July while twice-weekly services to Havana will be operated from 21 July. Both will be from London’s Gatwick airport.

The carrier is also reiterating plans to launch services to Sydney, although it does not say when they will begin. Last year it secured rights to operate to the Australian city via Hong Kong.

In addition, Virgin plans to increase frequencies on existing services to Asia, the Caribbean and the USA, and will recruit 1,400 staff over the next year.

“Following the last recession Virgin Atlantic had annual double-digit growth from 1993-2000 and we aim to match this level in the next few years,” says Branson.

“There are encouraging signs that the market – particularly the all-important business travel sector – is returning to health… Across our network as a whole we’ve seen growth in our premium cabins of over 10% year-on-year.”