It’s fairly well considered that being ‘green’, no matter how it’s marketed isn’t really a sexy subject manner. However, our friends, Virgin Atlantic have actually made a step in the right direction in making the notion of being green a cool concept. Some interesting figures have just come out, whereby the airline has revealed that it saved an impressive 30 per cent in carbon dioxide on many of its flights last year, thanks to a $2 billion investment into its fleet upgrade programme.

How so? The airline has moved from an entirely four engine fleet of aircraft (losing the mantra of ‘4 engines for long haul’) and has introduced 10 new twin engine Airbus 330-300s, each of which is around 30% more efficient on a per trip basis than the Airbus 340-600s they’ve replaced. The A340’s have been plagued by fuel burn issues, using a lot more fuel than originally estimated. The A340 fleet, whilst we are a great fan of them, are being phased out of service around the world, with the more reliable and economical A330 fleet taking their place.

Virgin Atlantic.indd

The A330 fleet for Virgin include the new cabin products including the new Upper Class Suite, which only aid to lift the image of Virgin Atlantic, keeping their inflight classes in all the cabins, from economy to premium economy and Upper Class a modern and ‘appealing’ product.

The figures are revealed in the airline’s 2013 Change is in the Air Sustainability Report, which covers the entry into service of the 10 new A330-300s during 2011 and 2012 – amounting to refreshing approximately a quarter of the fleet. The savings will be complemented in 2014 by the introduction of the Boeing 787-9, which are around 21 per cent more fuel efficient on a per trip basis than the aircraft they’ll replace. Sixteen 787-9s will join Virgin Atlantic in the coming years as Sir Richard Branson’s airline tracks towards its target of achieving 30% savings in carbon dioxide for every tonne of passengers and cargo flown by 2020, and looks to cement its reputation as one of the most sustainable airlines in the world.


Other elements that Virgin have included in their fuel saving and ‘green’ scheme, include the replacement of the carts used onboard. By replacing their carts, Virgin aircraft are the equivalent of over 500 London buses lighter annually, saving about 8,000 tonnes of CO2 a year.

Virgin - Edinburgh

Virgin Atlantic’s new CEO Craig Kreeger says, “I want Virgin Atlantic to develop and grow, but I believe it is absolutely crucial that this growth happens in a sustainable way. I have already been struck by the passion of our teams in delivering this right across the business – it is very much aligned with our company brand values and is inspired by our people. I’m proud and excited to be leading this and I’m looking forward to working with our teams and continuing to push the boundaries in finding sustainable aviation solutions. We all want Virgin Atlantic to be a world leading airline in this area and will continue to work hard to deliver that.”

Remarkably, through complementary operational changes like the ones above, the airline is expecting to save as much as £20 million and close to 100,000 tonnes of CO2 a year within the next five years.

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Posted by:Jonny Clark

3 replies on “When Green Really Does Become ‘Sexy’

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