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Virgin Australia readies new Airbus A330s with lie-flat seats

By David Flynn     Filed under: sydney, perth, business class, Melbourne, Airbus A330, lie-flat seats, Virgin Australia, Coast To Coast

Update: we've got first pics and full details on Virgin Australia's lie-flat business class seats on its new Airbus A330s.

Virgin Australia is set to raise the stakes in its battle for business travellers with the addition of two new Airbus A330s to its domestic fleet.

Both of the A330s are tipped to sport lie-flat seats in business class to improve the journey during transcontinental trips on Virgin’s ‘Coast to Coast’ service.

A revised business class cabin layout will also remove the middle seat found in Virgin’s two A330s which already fly Sydney-Perth, resulting for a less-squeezy 2-2-2 configuration compared to the current 2-3-2 arrangement.

However a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that those first two A330s, which were bought 'pre-loved' from Emirates and currently fly Sydney-Perth, would not be upgraded to install the new seating or remove the middle seat.

The spokesperson also confirmed that every seat from tip to tail in both new A330s will sport the same 'Red' Panasonic in-flight entertainment system as on Virgin Australia's international Boeing 777 (which are now emerging from a refresh, as reported here).

The system will support video and audio programming 'on demand' rather than the looped video of the first two A330s, which also appear to be in for an upgrade of sorts. A Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller the system in those A330s "will be similar to the Boeing 777 (RED) system in the new aircraft."

The first of the new A330s flew in Australia over the weekend and will be used for training cabin crew and technical crew based in Melbourne.

The second – which will be the fourth A330 in Virgin’s fleet – is slated to arrive from Airbus HQ in Toulouse on Thursday April 26.

Virgin says it will take delivery of two more factory-fresh A330s in the second half of this year.

Melbourne-Perth gets A330 in May

Virgin Australia tells Australian Business Traveller that the new aircraft will be shared among Virgin's A330 routes rather than dedicated to a single service.

This will include Virgin’s new Melbourne-Perth Coast to Coast service, which begins on May 14, and a daily A330 ‘morning peak hour’ service between Melbourne and Sydney starting May 15.

Virgin’s Melbourne-Perth A330 flights will run twice each day, departing Melbourne at 1pm and 5.30pm for arrival into Perth at 3.15pm and 7.45pm (local Perth time).

Return flights from Perth depart at 8.30am and 5.30pm, arriving in Melbourne at 1.45pm and 10.45pm (local Melbourne time).

The morning A330 shuttle between Melbourne and Sydney will depart Melbourne at 7.15am,  arriving into Sydney at 8.40am. The return leg will depart Sydney at 10.00am and arrive Melbourne at 11.35am.

For the very latest news for business travellers and frequent flyers, tune into @AusBT on Twitter.


About David Flynn

David Flynn is the editor of Australian Business Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.


Have something to say? Post a comment now!

1 on 13/4/12 by darrenbooth

The only sad news about this upgrade:

"However a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller that those first two A330s, which were bought 'pre-loved' from Emirates and currently fly Sydney-Perth, would not be upgraded to install the new seating or remove the middle seat."

Having an inconsistent product doesn't sound very Virgin to me, actually.

1 on 13/4/12 by chrisjrn

Sure it's disappointing, but then they're going to have all of their A330s at full utilisation basically straight away.  Perhaps an upgrade will happen once they have a larger fleet and can take up the slack?

2 on 13/4/12 by Yusef Danet

While the existing (ex EK) A330s won't be upgraded, they may be replaced. VA is reported to be in tals to take greater numbers of new A330s and hand back the troublesome XFA/B. 

1 on 13/4/12 by StuParr

That would make sense. Why upgrade them if they can't earn the return required from the capital expense. They have done that with the 700's they are going to return shortly so maybe that is the plan with the EY 332's. In the end it is all about return on investment.

2 on 13/4/12 by darrenbooth

I didn't know they were leased birds from EK. Yes, indeed... hand them back and bring on some new ones with the lie-flat config.

3 on 13/4/12 by Al

Bravo! Good to see Virgin investing in new A330s. And I agree, there's no need for Virgin to upgrade their first two. They were great to launch 'Coast to Coast' and help put Virgin back on the business travel map with a good product and great service. But the money spent on upgrading and the inevitable downtime of the aircraft which would impact on those routes and profitability would be better put towards new A330s. Virgin is once again working smart on all this.


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