Virgin Atlantic mulls Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

By David Flynn, May 12 2014
Virgin Atlantic mulls Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

Virgin Atlantic is considering adding the Boeing 787-10 to its Dreamliner fleet.

“It would make a lot of sense for us to have some -10s,” Chairman Richard Branson said in an interview in Dallas, Texas. “We are definitely exploring that.”

The 787-10 is longer and larger than the 787-9, which will make its worldwide debut in the middle of this year with launch airline Air New Zealand.

Read: Air New Zealand gears up for Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner’s debut

Virgin Atlantic has signed on the dotted line for 16 of the mid-sized Boeing 787-9, with the first to begin flying in September, and holds options to buy five more.

However, Branson said his airline would be more likely to place new orders for the 787-10 rather than converting some of its current 787-9 orders to the larger plane.

The Boeing 787-10 doesn't boast the extended range of its smaller sibling but is designed to pack more passengers from tip to tail, at up to 330 travellers in a three-class layout compared to 250–290 passengers for a similarly-configured 787-9.

Boeing expects first deliveries of the 788-10 Dreamliner to begin in 2018 and already holds order from Etihad Airways and Singapore Airlines for 30 of the jets apiece, United Airlines (20) and British Airways (12).

Also read: Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 due September: new seats, bars, IFE

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we're @AusBT


David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Singapore Airlines - KrisFlyer

14 Jan 2014

Total posts 337

I'm surprised they haven't considered the A350-1000 for this top end.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2213

Yes and no.

Here's a counter-argument - the 787-10 is the best-fit biggest craft they need going forward. It's late, so no wall of text. Here goes:

  • The 787-10 is advertised as a 330-seater. Expect some jiggling here and there (staggered herringbone UC, 9-abreast Y), but this is still more capacity than their current workhorse, the A346.
  • Fleet commonality with the 787-9, and the respective ranges of the 787-9 and 787-10 more than cover the needs of VS ex-LHR/LGW.
  • Bigger is not better for VS. They are a smaller, more premium carrier and should chase high-yielding traffic. Really Big Twins (RBTs) and A380s are heavy artillery for powerhouse carriers.
  • There is a need for a 744 replacement, but I would argue that the approach of smaller aircraft with equivalent premium cabin size (and less Y) will probably play better for VS ex-LHR, and ex-LGW use the same aircraft type in a packed-to-the-lithium-batteries config. The 787-10 fits nicely in this role.

I therefore underline my suggestion that the 787-10 is the best fit for VS, and that they should get it ASAP.

(For the record, I also think it's a fantastic proposition for QFi.)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Sep 2012

Total posts 132

In all honesty, I'm not sure how you can classify VS as being a smaller, more premium carrier. 

They operate many routes that are out and out leisure/holiday. They do have a Premium Economy Cabin, but they don't offer a First Class cabin on any of their existing frames.

I think the A380 would do wonders for them on their lower average seat price flights, jampacking those holiday makers ex LGW to sunny Caribbean and  Miami / US leisure destinations.

Pack 'em in like Sardines with a complete lower deck of Economy, with a mix of their PE and Upper Class (read J) seats up top. Or perhaps do as QF and put a small Economy cabin up top in the bumpy / noisy section right at the back.

The 787-10 is though a perfect fit for the routes where they need to pack em in, just demand does not dictate a Whalejet 

The A350-1000 is too much frame for them. I think the A350-1000 however is just the plane that Qantas International needs, for their flights to the US.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Aug 2012

Total posts 2213

Sorry, I should probably have qualified my statement - I meant smaller and more 'premium' relative to BA.

They have high-capacity leisure routes, especially ex-LGW, but the way I see it these routes are still more suited to the 787-10 than an A380, especially given they've only got firm orders for six frames. I'd argue it doesn't suit them at all, actually, given they don't hold the same route strength as BA or LH.

But for the specific issue of the Sunny Out & Out Holiday Destinations, I think the 787-10 is a perfect fit all arond for VS (and for that matter, BA). Well within the range of the plane, the destinations are suited to an efficient mid-sized widebody stuffed to the hilt with seats. I'd say that the right way to use it for VS would be to have a mixture of hi-J, lo-J and no-J configurations, as with the A333s at present.

Imagine a LGW-MCO flight on a 787-10 with no Upper Class, limited Premium Economy and packed to the gills with Economy for Walt Disney World tourists; yet, the same aircraft type could be conducive to being an A346 replacement.

I genuinely think it's a fantastic fit.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Virgin Atlantic mulls Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner