Virgin Australia’s first Boeing 737 MAX due in April

The arrival of the Boeing 737 MAX will also serve as the launchpad for new business and economy seats.

By David Flynn, January 6 2023
Virgin Australia’s first Boeing 737 MAX due in April
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. 

Is this the business class seat we'll see on Virgin's Boeing 737 MAX?
Is this the business class seat we'll see on Virgin's Boeing 737 MAX?

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.

The AC and USB sockets are easily accessed beneath the armrest.
The AC and USB sockets are easily accessed beneath the armrest.

“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).

Virgin Australia's 'new concept' Boeing 737 economy seats.
Virgin Australia's 'new concept' Boeing 737 economy seats.

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.

Would be wonderful if they transformed Virgin into a JetBlue style carrier. 

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Jan 2018

Total posts 605

Hmmm, I didn't think JetBlue had an airport lounge network.  Not sure I'd like that.  

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 173

Travelling internationally, neither does VA. I would prefer the JetBlue business class hard product over the availability of a lounge.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 194

I spent 6.20 hours on  Brisbaine to Bali than Bali to Sydney virgin 'business ' class and I will never do it again.The worst uncomfortable business class seats ever. Flew the Max on Singapore airlines a few days ago now that is what humans call a business class.


Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

07 Dec 2014

Total posts 173

Realistically its an international premium economy style product, and similar in some respects to Jetstar's Business Class. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Oct 2016

Total posts 150

You have never traveled euro business... Ostensibly it is identical to QF's offering in single isle

SQ 737 Max is an outlier (as is Jetblue that I have only seen, not used)

Euro-business is nothing like the Qantas or Virgin single-aisle offering. Euro-business is when you have the same economy seat in 3-3- from front to back, but in 'business class' they leave the middle seat empty and in the case of BA's old 'Club Europe' would put a small plastic table in the middle seat, to be shared by passengers on either side.

Euro-business is what Air New Zealand effectively offers on its single-aisle The Works packages, with the empty middle seat. Qantas and Virgin's 737s are nothing like any of that, they have a totally different business class seat to economy and it's arranged 2-2.

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 232

Has anyone realised almost all Qantas flights to Bali are 737 domestic configuration also ? or JQ 320 all domestic Y  Econ  Config ? Or Malindo 737 with similar config domestic config

Thai Airways International - Royal Orchid Plus

15 Jan 2013

Total posts 452

I know about Qantas now running the 737 to Bali like it's a domestic plane.the thought of six hours in one of those makes one long for an a330 or for the old days of the 767 or 747.

31 Jan 2013

Total posts 42

7hrs 45mins CNS-TYO sitting in a 737? No way, Jose. And paying a premium for Business Class only to sit in what's no more than a domestic seat? Even airlines like Philippine Airlines can put a decent Business seat in their A321neos but seems like QF and VA are expecting people to pay premium fares on longer and longer international flights only to sit in a single aisle tin can with basic domestic seats.

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