Virgin Atlantic Airways has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
The airline is the first European carrier to take delivery of a Boeing 787-9 and plans to operate the aircraft initially on its London Heathrow-Boston route.
Virgin Atlantic Airways’ first 787-9 landed at London Gatwick Airport on October 10 following a non-stop delivery flight of more than 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 kilometers) from Paine Field in Everett, Washington, where Boeing’s Widebody Delivery Center and most of its widebody final-assembly facilities are located.
The Virgin Atlantic Airways 787-9, named ‘Birthday Girl’ in reference to the UK carrier’s 30th anniversary, is the first of 16 787-9s the airline has ordered from Boeing.
“The first 787-9 in Europe will be a flagship for Virgin Atlantic’s fleet, providing greatly improved efficiencies across its routes,” said Todd Nelp, vice president of European sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
With its fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 830 kilometers (450 nautical miles) than its sister 787 model, while (like the 787-8) offering 20 per cent less fuel use and 20 per cent lower emissions than comparable previous-generation aircraft.
Operating from London’s Gatwick and Heathrow airports, as well as Manchester and Glasgow airports, Virgin Atlantic Airways operates a fleet of approximately 40 jets.
Along with its first 787-9, the British operator also has a fleet of 12 Boeing 747-400 jumbos operating on routes across North America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.
Virgin Atlantic Airways also operates Airbus A330-300s, A340-300s and A340-600s and has ordered six Airbus A380 superjumbos, also holding options on six more.
To date, nearly 60 customers from around the world have ordered more than 1,000 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, approximately 40 per cent of which are 787-9s.