Virgin to splurge £100m on ‘futuristic’ bars and seats

6 Feb 2012

New Airbus A330-300 aircraft is a twin engined aircraft. The new plane will use 15pc less fuel per seat than the airline's A340-300 aircraft. It's part of Virgin's plans to start flying a lower carbon fleet

Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic is preparing to invest £100m in giving its business class a complete overhaul on the new Airbus A330-300 aircraft that’s due to be revealed this spring.

The launch of the Airbus A330-300 is part of a US$2.2bn aircraft investment programme, as the airliner eyes up increasing its business traveller market share.

The new ‘Upper Class launch’ will commence on its London to New York JFK International Airport morning flight before rolling out across all aircraft. It will join Virgin Atlantic’s Heathrow fleet over the next three years, confirmed Virgin Atlantic chief executive Steve Ridgway this morning.

The airline is not yet divulging any additional details on what the ‘futuristic bar’ or ‘enhanced seats’ will look like or how they will function.

What Virgin did reveal, however, about the stg£100m investment is that it would be used for “a new cutting-edge Upper Class cabin including an enhanced seat, a futuristic bar, and many other cabin updates to give passengers a unique flying experience”.

It will also revamp its fine dining in-flight service, with fliers getting new customised menus and new crockery.

The new Airbus A330-300 itself is a twin engined aircraft. As part of Virgin’s plans to green its fleet, the new plane will use 15pc less fuel per seat than the airline’s A340-300 aircraft.

Market share – business travellers

Ridgway said today that Virgin Atlantic is seeking to increase its share of the business traveller market through a three-year programme of new product and service developments both on the ground and in the air, starting this spring.

Virgin is also getting set to open up a new “new multimillion pound” club house at New York’s JFK International Airport, possibly in March. The airliner is also keeping this news slightly under wraps, but its teaser is that the club house will “set new standards for the industry”.

Ridgway said Virgin had managed to grow its customer numbers across the Atlantic in the face of “increased capacity and bigger airline alliances”.

“We are confident that this new programme of investment will enable us to continue to take market share as the product becomes more widely available across the fleet,” he said.

Interestingly, Virgin Atlantic recruited groups of its most frequent fliers to test the new concepts it is rolling out. The airliner even went so far as allowing some people to try out the beds, with some people even engaging in an overnight stay in the airline’s test facility!

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic