Virgin Atlantic buys up eco-friendly Airbus A350s in $4.4bn deal

Francesca Washtell
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Richard Branson 'No Way BA/AA' - Photocall
Richard Branson is never one to miss a photo op (Source: Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic has placed a $4.4bn (£3.4bn) order for 12 of Airbus' largest twin-engined, A350-1000 aircraft.

The aircraft will be powered with the more enivronmentally-friendly Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, which generate around 30 per cent lower carbon dioxide emissions.

Virgin announced the order at the opening day of the Farnborough Air Show.

The new planes will be delivered from early 2019 and will replace the airline's remaining Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340-600s. They will be delivered in two configurations, a business fleet seating up to 360 customers and one for the leisure fleet seating up to 410 customers.

Read more: Airlines will spend around $5.2 trillion on planes over the next 20 years

Virgin has said the aircraft will initially fly to major US destinations from Heathrow, but will later be based at Gatwick as well and be used on worldwide routes.

"We’re thrilled to welcome the A350 to Virgin Atlantic," Virgin Atlantic president Richard Branson said. "It is an outstanding aircraft from both a customer and sustainability point of view.

"Sustainable growth and meeting our carbon targets is incredibly important to us, and the aircraft’s environmental credentials were a genuine factor in our selection."

Read More: Boeing soars above Airbus ahead of Farnborough Airshow

Prime Minister David Cameron said: "I welcome the news of Virgin Atlantic's investment. As well as being good news for passengers, it's great news for jobs in the UK.

"It's an investment in the UK itself, and our world-beating aerospace industry."

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