Virgin Australia expects to have the first of its six-strong fleet of Airbus A330-200s fitted with new business class suites by the middle of August.
The first aircraft to be reconfigured with the B/E Aerospace manufactured business class seats, VH-XFH, headed to Singapore to have the new seats fitted on August 1 according to flight tracking website Flightaware.
The Airbus twin was due to be unveiled to the travelling public on Monday, August 17 in Sydney, Virgin said during its 2014/15 full year results presentation on Friday.
Virgin chief executive John Borghetti acknowledged there had been some delays with the planned start of the reconfiguration program due to seat certification issues for the A330, which flies from Perth to Australia’s east coast capitals, as well as seasonal international flights between Sydney and Nadi.
However, Borghetti said all six aircraft were due to be fitted with the new seats by the end of October.
Moreover, the Boeing 777-300ER reconfigurations – for both the new business class and updated premium economy cabin – were on track to start in November and be completed by March 2016.
“We haven’t lost time in terms of the completion of the fleet, it has just started late,” Borghetti told reporters during Virgin’s 2014/15 results presentation in Sydney on Friday.
“There were some issues around seat belts which had to be done. They have been sorted. The important thing in airline refurbishment is not when you start, it is a question of how quick you can do it because you don’t want mixed product out there that customers will be disappointed on.”
The Virgin seats were first revealed in September 2014 at a media event in Singapore. Since then, Qantas has begun rolling out its new Thompson Vanage XL business class seats on board its fleet of Airbus A330-200s and A330-300s that are flown both domestically and on certain routes to Asia.
At last count, Qantas had completed five A330-300 and five A330-200 reconfigurations at its Brisbane maintenance facility. The airline has 28 A330s in its fleet.