Virgin Australia is considering converting its Sydney-Perth route to exclusively use the Airbus A330 with the arrival of a seventh new A330 later this year.
The airline’s Melbourne-Perth flights are already an “all A330” affair and from May 15 will offer two daily Brisbane-Perth A330 services.
“We also have a new A330 arriving late this year that we will deploy as appropriate as we continue to review our network and market opportunities” a Virgin Australia spokesman told Australian Business Traveller.
The spokesman also confirmed that Brisbane-Perth A330 travellers would experience both the latest factory-fresh A330 with lie-flat seats business class and 2-2-2 layout and the older models with business class recliners and a 2-3-2 middle seat configuration, as “our A330 fleet is rotated as needed to meet operational requirements.”
Virgin’s Airbus A330 fleet will top out at eight by June 2015, by which time the airline will have placed its order for either the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 as its next long-range jet for both transcontinental and international routes.
Bigger planes, more seats, lower prices..?
The A330 is the big gun of in the domestic fleets of both Virgin and Qantas, with about 100 seats more than the smaller Boeing 737-800s which remain the workhorse of both airlines’ domestic services.
Qantas plans to shift all weekday Sydney-Perth and Melbourne-Perth flights to A330s as of May this year, although the smaller Boeing 737s will run on weekends.
The aggressive A330 rollout by Qantas and Virgin will increase number of seats on the coast-to-coast route, keeping pressure on prices as the airlines compete for Australia’s transcontinental trek.
“If you look at our capacity growth, 95 per cent of that capacity growth went on Perth across the continent” says Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti.
Earlier this year Qantas CEO Alan Joyce pledged to upgrade the Red Roo's Airbus A330s with lie-flat business class seats, using an all-new design rather than the Marc Newson Skybeds found in its Airbus A380s and upgraded Boeing 747s, but doesn’t expect the first refitted A330 to appear until late 2014.