With the demise of the 767 as the Qantas mainstay for Transcontinental flights, much focus has been on its replacement, the Airbus A330. With Qantas operating aircraft that feature a 10 year old cabin, they were always going to struggle. After all, Virgin’s new deliveries featured a seat in Business Class that converted to a flat bed. As a result, Qantas announced a cabin refresh last year, with the surprising news that the first aircraft won’t be seen with its new interior until 18 months later, at the end of this year.

Ever since that announcement, speculation has been rife amongst our members that there was time for Virgin to strike back. While Virgin does have a relatively new A330 cabin, its B777 cabin is certainly getting a bit old. That speculation got louder in recent weeks at the time of the yearly results announcement. During that announcement, it was hinted that a new business cabin for both the 777 and A330 would be announced in coming weeks. With a new aircraft due, it was not long before our members put two and two together.

Cannot wait until XFJ (new A330) is delivered with the new business class seats, now to plan and book her first revenue flight

Others felt it would be silly to bring in a new aircraft with the old cabin only to change it by the end of the year. While a new aircraft does provide an opportunity to reveal the new cabin, it could be too soon, with the new addition having been on order with the manufacturer for over a year.

I doubt that XFJ will have the new seats given that the order for this plane was probably finalised before VA finalised their new J seat (and it still possible they haven’t done that yet). Either way i’m not too worried as the current J seat is quite good for trans-continental flights and beats Qantas’ A330s and it would also mean that VA finally have the same product installed across the fleet.

Clearly Virgin have taken the lead and decided to move first. With the economy starting to slow down in Western Australia, there could be room to move the aircraft onto some international routes. With Etihad leaving the Singapore to Brisbane route, and Virgin having traffic rights, that could be one option. Whatever happens, the move has excited our members.

WOW. This is going to be a total game changer if this is true. This is really a defining moment for VA as to where they want to go with their international operations. Do they want to be a strong domestic airline with international codeshares or do they want to be a proper international airline. Suddenly they will have the best J product across the Pacific (one of the worlds most profitable regions/routes), and the worlds best domestic Business Class (overtaking AA’s A321 transcon). That is one HELL of a marketing opportunity.

Do you think Virgin have done the right thing in a market that’s hardly going gangbusters, or did they just take a free pass from a slow moving Qantas, have your say HERE.

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