Executive Traveller exclusive
Virgin Australia expects to take delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX jet in April, with two more to follow around the middle of the year and a fourth by year’s end.
A Virgin Australia spokesperson confirmed the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX delivery schedule to Executive Traveller, saying “we are looking forward to taking delivery of eight new 737-8 aircraft, with the first expected to arrive in just a few months.”
“These aircraft will allow us to add capacity into the market at a time of extremely high demand, allowing more Australians to access great value and choice when they choose to fly. “
Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX delivery schedule
- The first 737 MAX in Virgin Australia livery is scheduled to take wing in April 2023, making the long journey from Boeing’s assembly centre at Renton, south of Seattle, to Virgin’s Brisbane hangars.
- Two more 737 MAX jets are scheduled to arrive “mid-year”, the airline says
- The remaining five aircraft from the 737 MAX 8 order are slated to arrive “from Q4 2023”
Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX routes
That timetable will see Virgin with a four-strong 737 MAX fleet by the end of 2023.
One of those will be assigned to Virgin’s new daily Cairns-Tokyo flights, leaving three to appear on key domestic routes.
Virgin has previously said it intends to roster the 737 MAX jet on high-density domestic and short-range international routes.
“It will do a great job for us transcontinental, it’ll do a great job for us in more traditional short-haul international routes,” Virgin Australia Group CEO Jayne Hrdlicka has previously remarked.
Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737 MAX business, economy class
Each of Virgin’s Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets will be crowned by a new business class seat – although this is tipped to be the same design that’s being trialled on two of the airline’s Boeing 737-800s already darting around Virgin’s domestic network.
Hrdlicka is full of praise for the comfortable and well-appointed seats, which add a leg-rest and storage pocket lacking in the current business class, as well as AC/USB power outlets and a handy holder for tablet and smartphones.
“Our customers love them, and our crew love them too,” Hrdlicka has previously told Executive Traveller, adding the airline remains on a growth trajectory “and the MAX 8 is a modern fuel-efficient replacement” for its workhorse 737-800s.
The new concept economy seat offers a little extra legroom thanks to a slightly slimmer profile, with a fold-out device holder for the passenger’s tablet or smartphone and a handy USB port nearby (although this isn’t active in the seats Virgin is already flying).
And Hrdlicka has no qualms about flying on the MAX, saying the exhaustive testing following two fatal crashes and a global grounding makes it “probably the safest aircraft in the world today.”
Virgin 737 MAX vs Qantas A321neo
While the past two decades have seen Qantas and Virgin both flying the Boeing 737 as the backbone of their domestic inter-city networks, that all changes from the end of 2023, when Qantas will add the Airbus A220 – a game-changing jet capable of tackling inter-city as well as regional routes – with the Qantas Airbus A321XLR joining the fray from late 2024.
However, it appears the first Qantas A321XLRs won’t push that transformative envelope to include lie-flat beds in business class, with Qantas instead settling for an updated version of a premium economy-style recliner at the pointy end.