Virgin Australia will send its Boeing 737 fleet to the United States for engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) as part of a 13-year agreement with alliance partner Delta Air Lines.
The MRO work on the 737’s CFM57-7B engines will be conducted by Delta TechOps’ facilities in Atlanta and Minneapolis/St Paul, Virgin said in a statement on Thursday.
The contract represented a “key milestone” in the Australian carrier’s partnership with the US flag carrier, Virgin chief operating officer Gary Hammes said on Thursday.
“This new engine maintenance contract further deepens Virgin Australia’s strategic alliance with Delta Air Lines,” Hammes said in a statement.
“At Virgin Australia, we constantly challenge ourselves to think differently so we are pleased to be working with Delta TechOps who have a track record of innovation as they service one of the world’s most successful airlines.
“We will continue to explore opportunities for Virgin Australia and Delta Air Lines to undertake joint procurement and achieve supply chain synergies across common fleet types.”
Virgin and Delta recently received approval from Australia’s competition watchdog to extend their alliance on trans-Pacific routes for a further five years. Currently, Virgin flies daily from Brisbane and Sydney to Los Angeles with Boeing 777-300ERs, while Delta has a daily Boeing 777-200LR flight between Los Angeles and the NSW capital.
Delta senior vice president for maintenance operations Don Mitacek said Delta TechOPs was committed to reducing costs and minimising turnaround times while maintaining quality.
“Delta TechOps provides a unique value proposition as the maintenance arm of the most reliable global US airline,” Mitacek said.
Virgin currently has 78 Boeing 737NG aircraft, which are flown domestically, across the Tasman and to destinations in the South Pacific and Asia, in its fleet. The airline has also ordered 40 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with deliveries to begin in 2018.
Delta is also a 737 operator, with about 130 of the type, comprising the 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900ER, in service.