Fast-growing Virgin America has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Airbus at the Farnborough International Air Show for 40 A320s, potentially taking its...

Fast-growing Virgin America has signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Airbus at the Farnborough International Air Show for 40 A320s, along with options on 20 more.

The new aircraft would be delivered from 2013 through 2016 with 10 firm deliveries per year on average, and the 20 additional optioned aircraft would be delivered in 2017 and 2018.


If firmed into an order, the MOU (signed on July 22, 2010) would expand Virgin America’s all-A320-family fleet to 90 aircraft.  The airline indicated it would announce its choice of engines for the additional aircraft once the purchase agreement is finalized.

“The low operating costs and cabin comfort of the A320 fit our growth plans as well as our guests’ high expectations for comfort, style and efficiency in their travel,” says David Cush, Virgin America’s president and CEO .

“A repeat order from Virgin America – a U.S. airline growing quickly both in terms of their route network and their reputation for excellent service – is a great affirmation of the benefits of operating the A320 family,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer, customers.  “We are very pleased they have chosen to expand their reach with even more of our aircraft, and we look forward to continuing to support their Airbus fleet.”

Virgin America signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus at the Farnborough International Airshow 2010 as a prelude to ordering 40 more A320s, all potentially to be fitted with Airbus' new Sharklet wingtip drag-reducing devices for the A320 family

Virgin America already operates 28 Airbus aircraft (10 A319s and 18 A320s) and will put a total of 22 more purchased and leased A320s into service by the end of 2012.  Once finalized, the MOU announced on July 22 would expand the Virgin America fleet to a total of 90 Airbus aircraft.

However, if Virgin America also firmed its newly agreed options on 20 more, the deal could increase Virgin America’s A320-family fleet to 110 aircraft by 2018.

With this MOU, Virgin America may choose the new, fuel-saving ‘Sharklet’ option that is available beginning in late 2012 on A320 aircraft. Sharklets are large wing-tip devices that will enhance the eco-efficiency and payload-range performance of the A320 family.

Offered as a forward-fit option, they are expected to result in at least 3.5 per cent reduced fuel burn over longer sectors, corresponding to an annual reduction of around 700 metric tons of carbon dioxide per aircraft. The Sharklet development is part of a larger, continuous-improvement program for the A320 family.