Virgin Australia doesn't expect to see the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 join its fleet until sometime after 2020, with CEO John Borghetti tipping this 'A or B' decision will be made in the next two years.
Borghetti has previously spoken of the advanced jets in a 2017 timeframe, at which point either the A350 or the Dreamliner would replace both the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777.
But "we've stretched it out because we've found the A330 and the 777 to be so good", Borghetti tells Australian Business Traveller.
"We've got the best of both worlds right now. In my view the Boeing 777 is better than a 747 or anything else of that nature, and the A330 is the perfect aircraft in its class. This is a fleet that we're comfortable with until 2020-odd."
The recent retirement of Virgin's first two ex-lease Airbus A330s means the airline's six-strong A330 fleet is "brand new," Borghetti says, with the oldest jet dating back to just mid-2012.
"They're terrific, they're very efficient and now we've got new business class seats to put in them, so there's no rush to replace them."
"That doesn't mean that we're going to wait until 2019 to make a decision – we'll make that decision sometime over the next year or two – but it would be for deliveries beyond 2020 and not before."
Multi-airline 'bulk buy' is possible
Last month Borghetti admitted he would consider placing a shared order for either the Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 with partners Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand.
"Could we, would we, talk to our three partners in terms of how we do this together? Within legal bounds, absolutely," Borghetti said.
But any decision on the next-gen jetliners is still some time away, and Borghetti isn't about to pick favourites.
"The A350 and Boeing 787 are both excellent aircraft."
"I recently had the pleasure of seeing the A350 and was stunned from a consumer aspect" he commented on the recent Sydney visit of the Airbus A350 – which he praised as "a very impressive aircraft" with a "seriously outstanding" design – "but I'm equally confident that the 787 is good."
Qantas has also pushed back the first five options of its 50-strong Boeing 787-9 order from ?2016 to 2017 to help speed the airline's climb back to profitability.
"The Boeing 787 is an excellent aircraft and remains an important part of our future" said Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
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