Virgin Australia has completed the refurbishment of its five Boeing 777-300ERs with new business class seats, a refreshed premium economy cabin and upgraded inflight entertainment system throughout the aircraft.
The final 777 to undergo the cabin refits at Chennault International Airport at Lake Charles, Louisiana, VH-VOZ, was ferried to Abu Dhabi International Airport on Sunday August 28 (local time), according to flight tracking website FlightAware.
Having a fifth 777 back in service allows Virgin to resume its three times a week Sydney-Abu Dhabi service, with VH-VOZ scheduled to depart from the United Arab Emirates capital as the VA30 bound for Sydney on Wednesday August 31.
The Sydney-Abu Dhabi route has been suspended since February as Virgin installed 37 B/E Aerospace Super Diamond reverse herringbone seats that the Australian carrier has dubbed “The Business”, a bespoke bar that is attended by cabin crew and a refreshed, intimate 24‐seat premium economy cabin. Further, the Panasonic inflight entertainment system has been updated with a new user interface and more content for all classes.
The airline also added extra‐legroom Economy Space+ seats, featuring the five rows of the main cabin, where they are set at 34in pitch, as well as the exit rows.
Overall, the changes have resulted in a reduction of 22 seats on board Virgin’s 777s, from 361 seats under the old configuration to 339 under the new configuration. The aircraft flies to Los Angeles from Brisbane and Sydney, as well as on the Sydney-Abu Dhabi route.
The first reconfigured 777, VH-VPD, commenced flying on April 30, with each aircraft spending about 30 days in the maintenance hangar for the work to be completed by AAR Corp, a maintenance, repair and overhaul and aviation services firm.
Meanwhile, Virgin said on Tuesday the Economy Space+ concept has also been rolled out across its domestic and short-haul international network, replacing what was previously marketed as “Extra Legroom” seats.
Virgin said in a statement Economy Space+ seats were located in exit rows of the airline’s Airbus A330-200s, Boeing 737-800s, Embraer E190s, and Fokker 100s, while they were in the first row of its ATR-72 turboprops.
The seats were available as a buy up from an economy ticket, with prices starting at $10 for domestic flights and $50 for international flights, Virgin said. Depending on the flight, passengers would also receive some additional perks such as dedicated checkin counters and preferential access to overhead lockers, among other benefits.
Virgin said in May an Economy Space+ seat on the 777-300ERs would be between $135 and $165 per sector.
“We are committed to providing our guests with more choice and comfort when flying with Virgin Australia,” chief commercial officer Judith Crompton said in a statement.
“We believe Economy Space+ provides great value and will be very popular with travellers in the main cabin.”
(Read more about Virgin’s 777 cabin reconfiguration in the September issue of Australian Aviation, on sale now in newsagents and online).