Virgin Atlantic takes delivery of first A350

Yesterday saw the first Airbus A350-1000 delivered to Virgin Atlantic. The aircraft is due to ferry Toulouse – London Gatwick later today

Registered G-VLUX and christened Red Velvet, the aircraft is currently slated to enter service on the London Heathrow – New York JFK route on 10th September. It’s also now being stated on virginatlantic.com that Atlanta will also be one of the new jets initial routes.

Update 16/8/19

Virgin Atlantic have now announced that the new A350 will be heading to Los Angeles “from next year”.

Atlanta

Initially, G-VPOP was supposed to be the first delivered to Virgin Atlantic, however it was just pipped to being the first by its sister ship, so it can be assumed the airlines second A350 will be along in the coming days.

The delivery to Virgin comes very shortly after British Airways received their first Airbus A350.

New Upper Class Suite

Also like British Airways, Virgin Atlantic has taken the opportunity to reveal its new Upper Class suite on board the new aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic Upper Class
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class Bed

Also new for Virgin Atlantic on the A350 is the removal of the onboard bar. Instead, in comes what the airline is calling the loft – which Virgin Atlantic describe as:

The Loft is a unique space for Upper Class customers, and the largest social space across any of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet. It’s a place to gather, chat, grab a drink or dine with friends. As well as enjoying luxe comfort and high end finishes, customers can settle in with Bluetooth headphones and connect to the 32 inch screen – catch a show, or watch the live tailcam.

Virgin Atlantic The Loft
The Loft

Enhanced Premium and Economy

Virgin Atlantic has also made enhancements to both the Premium and Economy cabins on the A350.

Virgin Atlantic Premium seat
Premium – previously Premium Economy
Virgin Atlantic economy seat
Economy seating

Training Flights

Unlike British Airways, there wont be any training flights available to the public. Mainly because Virgin Atlantic only serves the long haul market. What will be likely though is that the training flights will take place at airfields throughout the UK, much like when the airline took delivery of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft in 2014.

Virgin Atlantic pilots have been training to fly their new aircraft with Finnair, who have operated the type for a good few years now. This is a similar practice to when the airline took delivery of their 787’s. On that occasion, their pilots trained with Norwegian.

New Icons

Also new on Virgin Atlantics A350 are the flying icons. Out goes the Varga Girl that has been on the nose of every Virgin Atlantic aircraft since 1984 and in comes a host of new characters.

Of interest, is that the new aircraft will make its debut on the same route as the type it’s replacing in the fleet. The A340-600 also made its debut on the New York JFK route back in 2002. Hopefully the A350 will experience less issues than the A340. I seem to recall the A340-600 wasn’t sold to full capacity so the smaller A340-300 could be subbed in at short notice and not cause too many issues. And this was the case on more than a few occasions. The experience of that left the airline to say that they would never be a launch customer for a new type again.

The Future

Within the next few years Virgin Atlantic would have completely overhauled its fleet. The 747’s, A340′, and current A330’s will be gone, to be replaced by a further 11 A350’s and up to 14 A330neo’s. This means that the 17 787’s that were delivered between 2014 and 2018 will become the oldest members of the fleet – which is surprising to think considering that in a lot of airlines, the 787 is considered one of the new bits of kit!

Between now and the end of 2019 Virgin will take delivery of a further three A350’s. These will be registered G-VPOP, G-VJAM and G-VPRD.

All of which are which are expected to remain on the London Heathrow – New York JFK route initially. The type will then operate flights from Gatwick and likely Manchester once further deliveries have taken place.

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