In an interview with the Sunday Times, Virgin Atlantic chief executive Shai Weiss confirmed that the airline will defer delivery of 6 Airbus A350’s.
In total, Virgin Atlantic have 12 Airbus A350 aircraft on order. Of those 12, 4 are in service, with the next one (G-VDOT) handed over to the airline on 1st May, but currently held at Toulouse. This particular aircraft was formerly a test aircraft for Airbus (F-WWXL). Therefore, this leaves just the one A350 that Airbus will produce for the airline, at least in the near term.
Virgin Atlantic previously decided to defer the A380 for a number of years before finally cancelling the order.
This follows the announcement earlier in the week that Virgin Atlantic would pull out of London Gatwick. In addition, their fleet of 7 aging Boeing 747 aircraft have been permanently withdrawn. The Boeing 747’s, which are currently stored in Manchester and Glasgow could head off to the scrap yard as soon as this week.
The Sunday Times also report that Virgin Atlantic are currently losing up to £15m per week. The situation is so dire that administrators Alvarez&Marsal have been put on standby. An initial procedure would be for the 49% of the airline that is owned by Delta Airlines to be wiped out. This would then enable new investors to come in. However, in the UK this is somewhat tricky with an airline. This approach would also mean that any leases would be terminated. In the case of Virgin Atlantic, nearly all their aircraft are leased, meaning they would lose most of their fleet. In addition, they have essentially mortgaged their slots at London Heathrow for £220million, so they will struggle to raise any income there.
Despite this, Shai Weiss says that he is “100% confident” that the airline can survive.
Header pic © Virgin Atlantic