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Virgin Blue orders 50 new Boeing 737s

Virgin Blue Group has signed an agreement with Boeing for up to 105 brand new 737s, including 50 on firm order.

The transaction was in negotiation for nine months and it now becomes the biggest aircraft order in Virgin Blue’s ten year history.

The agreement includes, as mentioned, 50 firm 737-800s (with contract flexibility to convert to either 737-700 or 737-900), 25 additional firm delivery positions secured as options and 30 future purchase rights. Deliveries are scheduled to run from June 2011 through to 2017.

A significant percentage of the order is intended for replacement of the existing narrowbody fleet, while the remainder will be deployed to new routes and to boost frequency where demand dictates.

Virgin Blue chief executive, Brett Godfrey, remarked, “Securing this agreement now places Virgin Blue in a strong position to prepare for steady future growth as domestic and short-haul markets recover. It will also ensure a turnover of aircraft to maintain the youngest fleet of modern aircraft which is crucial for maintaining our commitment to on-time performance and the lowest cost base possible.”

The aircraft will have Boeing’s new sky interiors including newly designed seats and IFE which will complement Virgin Blue’s ‘Airline of the Future’ initiative to be rolled out during 2011. They will be powered by the new CFM56-7BE engines which in combination with the airframe will provide a 2% improvement in fuel consumption, which, in turn, equates to a 2 percent reduction in carbon emissions. Additionally, the -7BE will provide up to 4% lower maintenance costs, depending on the thrust rating.

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