Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : January February 2010 Contents 28
JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2010 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
because we look at every opportunity
that's out there. We've looked at A330s.
We've done more work on A330s than on
200LRs. Why? We don't think the A330 is
the right plane for the longer term but it is
available today and our hole in our network
is mid haul.
"So, yeah, that's true," Godfrey said of
studying 777-200LRs. "But does that mean
we're going to do it? No. Have we talked to
Boeing about it? Yeah. Have we talked to
Airbus about A330s? Yeah, but they'll say
' ose bastards will never buy anything off
us!' at's not true, it is the right aeroplane
for mid haul markets at the moment, in the
absence of the 787, and if we wanted to go
down and fly against Jetstar into some of
the markets they do -- which we ultimately
believe our brand against theirs, we win,
that's our view -- we would look at 330s.
(And) we've looked at Q400s.
" ere honestly is nothing imminent but
we have looked at every potential aeroplane
type," Godfrey confirmed.
But of all the new types Virgin Blue has
looked at for its fleet, possibly the most
likely to be acquired is the 737-900 stretch
of the 737NG series.
"We've looked at 737-900s," Godfrey
confirmed. "Why? e 900 is hardly any
different from the 800s and we fly 700s
so why the hell not 900s if they give us an
extra 20 odd seats? If we can get the right
deal out of Boeing for a 900 then we'll go
Any 737-900 buy would likely come
out of a new deal Virgin Blue is currently
negotiating with Boeing for new 737s to
replace existing leased aeroplanes and allow
for new growth. Godfrey announced VB's
plans to acquire 30 to 50 new 737s in a
speech to the National Aviation Press Club
"Whether it's 50, 30, 100, it hasn't been
finalised, but this is a good time to be look-
ing," Godfrey reiterated.
e airline certainly has form in buying
new aircraft at advantageous times when
the global airline industry is in a downturn
-- after the September 11 2001 terrorist
attacks it placed a big order for new 737s
at heavily discounted prices that have sus-
tained the airline's growth since.
"We believe we've got one of the best
deals this century -- basically four months
after September 11 committing to an order."
In fact, many of the aircraft ordered
under that deal have yet to be delivered
-- the Boeing Commercial Airplanes order
website shows Virgin Blue has ordered in
total 52 737s and by mid December had
taken delivery of only 30 of those. But the
current pricing for that 2002 deal expires in
mid 2010, hence the drive to secure a new
deal at today's advantageous prices.
"So by July of 2010 our deal is gone
so we have to have a new one in place,"
Godfrey explained. "I don't want to leave
it 'til the last second and one of the things
... on (my) dance card (before I leave) was
to have the fleet profile supported by the
board in terms of the strategy, and ex-
e number of aircraft in that buy
depends on the scope of the deal, and
whether Virgin Blue opts just to replace
existing leased aircraft in its fleet, or acquire
extra aircraft to support growth.
"We've got somewhere around 30 leased
aircraft and we don't have to keep those
after they're eight to 10 years old. So when
we say 'How many is it?' Well, it's only
30 if we (replace) all the leased aircraft. If
we want some semblance of growth over
the next five years then it's north of that
number. If we don't want old aeroplanes
(in the fleet) then it's north of that number
again. at's what we were over in Seattle
(recently) talking on, we haven't concluded
any deal at this time but I'm hopeful we
can get something done."
As for regional expansion, "watch this
space," Godfrey advised, but either a new
"One of the things ... on (my) dance card (before I leave) was to have the fleet
profile supported by the board in terms of the strategy, and executed."
TRANS-TASMAN? Brett Godfrey hints that once VB's E-Jets have achieved ETOPS certification they could be
used on the trans-Tasman.
FLEET STRATEGY Virgin Blue is in the market for 30 to 50 new 737s, possibly including 737-900s, and has been considering a raft of other new aircraft types, from
777-200LRs to A330s and Q400s and ATR turboprops.
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