Virgin chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka has played down concerns the airline still hasn’t re-joined the ASX, arguing the “timing needs to be right”.
Hrdlicka told The Australian Financial Review at the weekend that there is “no pressure” to relist and added the airline was instead concentrating on revamping its fleet and rebuilding for the long term.
It comes six months after the business in January gave its first formal hint that it would strive to eventually refloat, with the move then speculated to be imminent.
“We’re in a very high inflationary environment, and we’ve been through a really difficult period,” Hrdlicka told the AFR.
“We’re very, very focused operationally and on delivering new aircraft into the fleet and delivering our schedule. Of course, the IPO is happening in the background, the planning, and as we’ve always said, there’s no pressure on timing when we’re ready.”
The chief executive was speaking as Virgin held an event at the weekend to mark the arrival of its first 737 MAX 8, ‘Monkey Mia’, VH-8IA, msn 65045, departed Nadi on 30 June at 1pm as flight VA9947 and landed in Brisbane at 1:36pm the same day.
Virgin also used the event to confirm an overhaul of the seat configuration for its existing fleet of older 737-800 aircraft, which will see one of its five rows of premium economy ‘X’ seats removed to make way for between six and 12 traditional economy seats.
It was part of a raft of changes aiming to make the flying experience for passengers consistent between the older 737-800 aircraft and the upcoming fleet of 33 MAXs, split between 8 MAX 8s and 25 MAX 10s.
The changes to the 800s will include the following:
- Installation of in-seat power for all Business Class and Economy seats
- Installation of new Business Class seats, consistent with the new Boeing 737-8 aircraft
- Installation of new or refreshed Economy seats, with seat design to be consistent with the new Boeing 737-8 aircraft
- Introduction of in-flight Wi-Fi and complimentary in-flight entertainment (via a guest’s device) to majority of the remaining fleet
Last month, Virgin Australia chief operations officer Stuart Aggs said adding the 737 MAX family to Virgin’s fleet would allow the airline to “grow capacity and support more efficient jet services”.
“Importantly, they will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050,” he said.
“While our approach to decarbonisation is multi-faceted, fleet modernisation is a critical part of progressing our sustainability ambitions and represents a significant opportunity to reduce our emissions intensity in the near term.
“We expect our fleet renewal program, combined with other fuel efficiency initiatives, to support over 80 per cent of our 2030 interim target to reduce Virgin Australia’s carbon emission intensity by 22 per cent.”
“As well as being more fuel efficient, the 737-8 is approximately 40 per cent quieter than the current 737-800 NG fleet and comes fitted with our new generation seats, which include device holders and in-seat power.”