Virgin Blue and Boeing have formally signed an agreement which will see the airline take up to 105 additional Boeing 737NGs.
The order is comprised of a firm order for 50 737-800s, with 25 firm delivery options and a further 30 purchase rights, all of which could be converted to smaller 737-700s or larger 737-900s. The aircraft will be delivered from 2011 to 2017 and will replace a significant part of the current Virgin Blue fleet, as well as catering for future growth.
“Securing this agreement now places Virgin Blue in a strong position to prepare for steady future growth as domestic and short haul markets recover,” said Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey. “It will also ensure a turnover of aircraft to maintain the youngest fleet of modern aircraft which is crucial for maintaining our commitment to on-time performance and the lowest cost base possible.”
Godfrey added that the new aircraft purchase was on “attractive commercial terms”, with net pricing improved from the airline’s first purchase from Boeing in 2001 when it took advantage of the post September 11 market to place a major order for 737NGs.
“We expect to finalise our funding arrangements for these aircraft shortly,” Godfrey noted.
While the 737 order has long been foreshadowed, Virgin Blue is also expected to order a number of other aircraft in the near future to allow the airline to expand its share of the domestic Australian market. The airline has also been rumoured to be close to an order for 777-200LRs which V Australia could operate on nonstop services from Sydney to New York and Perth to London. The VB Group is also known to have looked at a range of other aircraft, including ATR turboprops and Airbus A330s as part of a wide ranging fleet plan.