Virgin Australia has received its first Boeing 737-8 plane of 33 new MAX family aircraft under the airline’s fleet growth and renewal program.
The 737 was greeted by specialist Virgin Australia flight crew, experienced in taking delivery of new aircraft, and will now be flown nearly 12,000 kilometers to the airline’s hometown of Brisbane.
VH-8IA or ‘Monkey Mia’ is one of 33 MAX family aircraft that will join the Virgin Australia fleet in the next five years.
In addition to eight 737-8s, Virgin Australia has 25 x 737-10s (yet to be certified) on order for delivery starting from next year.
“These new aircraft will allow us to grow capacity and support more efficient jet services. And importantly, they will reduce emissions by at least 15 per cent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050,” Virgin Australia COO Stuart Aggs, said.
The COO said the aircraft will complement the airline’s simplified 737 fleet, which is one of the youngest commercial fleets in Australia with an average age of 11.7 years.
“This aircraft, which has a longer range than the 737-800 NG, will shortly join our new Cairns-Haneda route, which is taking off for the first time today, elevating travel between Tokyo and Far North Queensland,” he said.
Monkey Mia will eventually take up service on the Cairns-Haneda route.
According to Virgin Australia, Monkey Mia continues the carrier’s tradition of naming its aircraft after Australian bodies of water.
Monkey Mia is in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, which became Western Australia’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1991.
The new jet is among the first 737-8s to operate in Australia but joins more than 60 airlines that are operating more than 1,000 of the aircraft type globally.
The aircraft joins the Virgin Australia fleet under lease from leading global aircraft lessor China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Limited (CALC).
Virgin Australia’s fleet currently comprises 84 primarily Boeing 737 aircraft, up from 58 when the airline was relaunched in November 2020 – or one new aircraft every five weeks.
The aircraft is due to leave for Kona International Airport, US on June 28, 2023, and then follow on to Australia.