Delays to Boeing's 787 delivery schedule are forcing Virgin Atlantic to seek up to 12 aircraft as an interim solution to its fleet plans from 2011.

The UK carrier has ordered 15 787-9s but significant slips in a first flight date, coupled with the recent lengthy strike by the machinists' union, means it is now casting its eye wider.

"Virgin Atlantic is currently in discussions with Airbus, Boeing and aircraft leasing companies about adding new aircraft to its fleet from 2011," says a statement from the carrier.

Boeing 747 Virgin

"We are exploring additional opportunities in light of delays to deliveries of the Boeing 787. Any order could involve the purchasing or leasing of up to 12 aircraft, which would complement our existing 747 and A340 fleet."

It has not identified specific types under examination.

Boeing has not set any new first flight or delivery timetable. Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways is slated to be the first 787 operator towards the end of 2009.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news