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Virgin signs engine maintenance contract with Delta

written by australianaviation.com.au | December 10, 2015

A Virgin Australia Boeing 737-800. (Rob Finlayson)

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.

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Comments (10)

  • Raymond


    Where is this work currently being performed? Is this another instance of sending maintenance work offshore?

  • Jacob


    More Australian jobs going overseas – another sad day in the Australian aviation sector

  • So they keep delaying fleet announcements, hopefully in Jan 2016 they will announce something that will be a benefit to fuel efficiency, pax comfort, range and profit…… the 737 Max does not cut it. Get 787’s and soon Virgin.

  • I’m amazed it’s cheaper to send a 737 to the USA for maintenance than it is to perform that maintenance here given the cost of crew, fuel, depreciation due to additional mileage and downtime of the aircraft in service. (Of course it must be if that’s the decision that’s been made, but I’m surprised nonetheless.)

  • PeterL


    To “Pilot shortage anyone?”, you might want to reconsider what you said. You are mixing wide body and narrow body aircraft up. In the main wide and narrow body aircraft operate on entirely different types of routes.

    The 737 MAX is the most fuel efficient narrow body, in fact so new it is not yet certified or even had its first flight!!!

  • Matt


    Surely they will just send the engine for MRO via freight as opposed to flying the aircraft over?

  • Dave


    Kevin Scrimshaw: you will probably find that the engines are removed and shipped via sea to the US. There would be no reason to fly the engines(while still attached)

  • Philip


    If it was Qantas doing this the unions would be screaming.
    I have heard nothing !!!!!!

  • $$$


    People need to understand that Australian labour is notoriously expensive. Until that’s rectified this will continue to happen.

  • TSV


    I think there is more to this then meets the eye. I think this is a clear message to the Asian MRO’s that “we can take our business elsewhere”‘.

    Delta is a massive B737 operator and also a partner airline of Virgin. There would be some incentives there being a partner where VAA would get better rates and obliviously enough to not go to the Asian MRO’s.

    Australian aviation is currently in a transition. Asian MRO’s are becoming more expensive, Airlines (especially American operators) are starting to bring back their maintenance because it’s not as cost effective as it was 10-15 years ago.

    What the Australian aviation maintenance sector needs is support from government. Now is the PERFECT time to strike to get rid of the old way of thinking, stop trying to price gouge our own and realise that it’s better to have a smaller piece of the pie then go hungry. Something unions will never get their head around….

    Australia needs to transition from a manufacturing economy to a service one. We are bloody good at a lot of things and the world knows it, we’re just too expensive. We need to get lean and mean if we want any sort of decent economy which needs to start at the top. Get rid of the lot of them and start again. 10 years of bickering, backstabbing and uncertainty has cost this country massively.

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