Virgin Atlantic receives first Airbus A350

Virgin Atlantic's first A350 performing a test flight at Toulouse. Photo: © Clément Alloing

UK-based Virgin Atlantic Airways has received its first Airbus A350 aircraft, registered as G-VLUX. The carrier, which is 49% owned by US legacy carrier Delta, has an order for twelve A350-1000s, which it confirmed at the Farnborough Airshow in 2016. In keeping with Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft naming theme, its first A350 is called ‘Red Velvet’.

This delivery marks the second airline to base the Airbus A350 at London Heathrow after British Airways received its first A350 in July. Just as with British Airways, Virgin Atlantic are using the A350 to launch its new business class product, which the company calls ‘Upper Class’. The aircraft will fly in a three-class configuration, with 44 Upper Class Business seats, 56 Premium Economy seats and 235 in Economy.

The inaugural passenger flight will commence on 10th September with service to New York’s JFK – the airline’s flagship route, and it will then operate six weekly flights to JFK.

While British Airways crew initiate the aircraft on short-haul routes to Madrid in order to familiarise themselves with the aircraft before serving its staple long-haul routes, Virgin Atlantic’s crews have been training with Finnair. The Finnish carrier already operates the A350 to London Heathrow once daily from Helsinki, with other flights throughout the day being operated by Finnair’s A320 family aircraft.