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Virgin Atlantic switches focus from A380 to B787

July 19, 2013 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Virgin Atlantic has again deferred buying the Airbus A380 and is concentrating on introducing its first Boeing 787 Dreamliners next year.

Virgin was an initial customer for the A380 and has ordered six.

But the airline’s chief executive Craig Kreeger told Bloomberg news service at the Royal Mystic-Place-Bangkok-www.mysticbangkokhotelAeronautical Society in London yesterday that Virgin had deferred the A380 “yet again”. The first delivery, scheduled for 2017, has been moved back to 2018.

Virgin is monitoring recent troubles with the 787, including a fire on an Ethiopian Airlines 787 while parked at London Heathrow, which followed a three-month grounding earlier this year because of overheating lithium-ion batteries.

Meanwhile, Virgin has taken another step toward realising its joint venture with Delta Air Lines. Delta has finalised its purchase of 49% of Virgin Atlantic Airways’ shares. The two carriers have confirmed they will start codesharing and offering reciprocity for their frequent flyer programs and airport lounges.

Kreeger says that after the US Department of Transportation (DoT) grants antitrust immunity for the two airlines later this year, the carriers be able to take their pact to another level, offering joint pricing and selling, and schedule rationalisation.

Members of Delta’s SkyMiles program and Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club will be able to earn and use miles in both programs.

Kreeger has ruled out making any immediate decisions about whether Virgin Atlantic will join SkyTeam, the alliance to which Delta belongs, or about participating in Delta’s joint venture with KLM, Air France and Alitalia.

Written by : Peter Needham

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