Virgin Atlantic has pushed back its Airbus A380 deliveries to 2017 and says that the eventual operation of the superjumbo will depend on the prevailing market conditions near the time.

Speaking in a wide-ranging interview in Flightglobal's Airline Business magazine interview, Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway - who leaves the airline next spring - said that plans for the A380 introduction were on the backburner for the moment.

"We don't need to make a decision about [our six A380 orders] now, it very much depends on the state of the global economy and the oil price," he says.

"It's a lovely quiet aircraft but it's very big and you need to operate it on some very big trunks and you need to have a big enough fleet - we always knew we'd have a small fleet and is that fleet too small? And that is a challenge for Virgin Atlantic but it's not something we need to worry about right now."

Virgin was among the first launch customers to sign for the A380 back in 2001, and was originally slated to be an early operator of the type. However after the A380 programme delays of the mid-2000s, deliveries to the UK long-haul airline have been progressively deferred. "The world has changed quite a lot since then," says Ridgway.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news