Virgin Atlantic plans to supplement its fleet with four leased-in Airbus A330-200s to cope with unanticipated downtime for its Boeing 787-9 fleet powered by the troubled Rolls-Royce Trent 1000.
The A330-200s are ex-airberlin aircraft. The first is undergoing renovations at Virgin Atlantic's London Gatwick base before entering service at the start of the summer schedule in late March. All four will come into service throughout the spring.
"These aircraft will add resilience to our flying program in light of an industry-wide shortage of Trent 1000 engines used on our Boeing 787 aircraft," Virgin Atlantic EVP operations Phil Maher said.
A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson added that the decision had been taken to bring in the A330-200s "so we could carry on operating the full schedule over the summer months."
The Trent 1000 has experienced service issues caused by premature wear and corrosion, most of it in elements of the intermediate pressure compressor and turbine, which has resulted in a parts replacement initiative on up to 500 engines. Air New Zealand suffered two Trent 1000-related incidents in Dec. 2017 that resulted in flights turning back.
The A330-200s will be used on Virgin services from Manchester, in northwest England, to New York, Boston, San Francisco and Barbados.
The aircraft will be painted in Virgin Atlantic livery, but their interiors will remain largely in their airberlin configuration-19 fully-flat beds in Upper Class, 46 extra leg-room economy seats and 222 economy seats-with "some extra Virgin Atlantic flourishes," the spokesperson said. A full interior refit will not take place until late 2018, after the busy summer season has passed. The aircraft are Wi-Fi enabled.
The aircraft are understood to have been leased for between three to four years.