Virgin Atlantic will replace its 747-400 with the A350-1000

British airline to start Boeing jet retirement from late 2019
One of Virgin Atlantic's eight Boeing 747-400s (Adrian Pingstone/Wikimedia)

Virgin Atlantic is another airline that has decided to retire the Boeing 747. The company confirmed this week that it will begin the process of withdrawing the double-deck jet as early as 2019. It will be replaced by the Airbus A350-1000, whose first unit will be delivered in July.

Today Virgin has eight Boeing 747-400 aged between 18 and 23, three of them own and five leased from GECAS. The idea is that the retirement of the “Jumbo” is made gradually and only ends in 2021.

There are currently around 530 Boeing 747 in commercial operation in the world, the great majority as freighter. With the introduction of the new A350-1000, Virgin will be able to fulfill virtually the same routes as the 747, but with significantly lower fuel consumption and pollutant emissions.

New Upper Class Cabin

However, the A350 is expected to carry far fewer passengers than the 455-seat Boeing. Virgin has even introduced its new Upper Class cabin exclusively for Airbus in recent weeks, but without revealing what the new jet’s capacity will be.

If you follow a layout similar to Cathay Pacific and Qatar, two carriers of the plane, Virgin’s jet is expected to have about 330 seats. The total order of the A350-1000 by the British airline is 12 airplanes, four of which will be delivered in 2019.

Virgin Atlantic orders 12 A350-1000 (Airbus)

The first Virgin A350-1000 flight will take place on August on the route between London (Heathrow) and New York (JFK).

Here are some features of the new cab:

  • Every seat now faces the window and offers deployable privacy screens
  • Laid out in a 1-2-1 configuration, every suite has a 44 “pitch, with a fully flat bed length of up to 82”
  • All suites will transition seamlessly from an upright seat, straight to a bed
  • It boasts Virgin Atlantic’s largest ever in-flight entertainment screen, at 18.5 “and features intuitive new system, controllable by customers’ own personal device
  • In line with the rest of the fleet, every customer will still have direct access.

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