LONDON: July 11, 2016. Virgin Atlantic has purchased eight A350-1000s for delivery beginning in 2019 and leased a further four aircraft from Air Lease Corporation from 2020, including an option for a fifth aircraft. The price was not disclosed.
The aircraft, with a maximum freight capacity of 20.9 tonnes over 14 pallet positions, will operate initially on the North Atlantic in conjunction with shareholder and code share partner Delta Air Lines.
Commenting on the order, outgoing UK prime minister David Cameron said it was great news for jobs in the UK: “The fantastic Airbus A350 is built in the UK, with Rolls-Royce engines and suppliers across the country. It's an investment in the UK itself, and our world-beating aerospace industry."
According to Airbus’s latest market forecast, 32,425 passenger aircraft (over 100 seats) and 645 freighters (over 10 tonnes capacity) worth a total of US$5.2 trillion will be required by 2035.
Airbus says in 20 years the number of daily long haul passengers traveling to, from or via aviation mega cities will more than double to 2.5 million as the middle classes in emerging markets double to 3.5 billion people.
Boeing, by contrast, is forecasting demand for 39,620 new airplanes over the next 20 years, an increase of 4.1 percent over last year and valued at US$5.9 trillion.
As global GDP and world-trade growth accelerate, the manufacturer says air cargo traffic is projected to grow an average 4.2 percent per year over the next 20 years. Historically world air cargo volume grew an average of 5.2 percent per year over the last three decades.
Replacement of aging airplanes, plus the industry’s growth requirements, will create a demand for 2,370 freighter deliveries over the next 20 years. Of these, 1,440 will be passenger conversions and the remaining 930 aircraft, valued at US$270 billion, will be new says the company.