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May 26, 2024
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Virgin Australia has started its fleet renewal by taking delivery of the first Boeing MAX 8 on lease from CALC. The aircraft was handed over during a ceremony in Seattle on Tuesday and was supposed to start the long journey to Brisbane via Hawaii on Wednesday. Virgin Australia starts new era with the first MAX.

The Australian low-cost airliner has eight MAX 8s on order, having doubled the number from four in August last year. The original plan was to start deliveries of the first four in February and of the second batch from July, but they were delayed following supply chain issues and the need for checks and rework of the vertical tailfin fittings.

The MAX 8s will get company from 25 MAX 10s, which are in the order book since 2018 and have been retained during the restructuring of the airline in 2020. This included the sale to investor Bain Capital, after which Virgin Australia refocused on a single Boeing 737/MAX fleet for its domestic and international operations. Delivery of the MAX 10s depends on the certification of the type, which is not expected until 2024, but the airline hopes to have inducted all MAX on order by 2028.

MAX will gradually replace 737NGs

Virgin Australia operates a fleet of 75 737-800s and nine -700s, but will gradually replace them with the MAX. Thanks to a fifteen percent better fuel efficiency and combined with other initiatives, the airline says that the new aircraft will support eighty percent of its 2030 interim target to reduce carbon emissions by 22 percent.

That MAX 8 will also allow for longer flights in the Oceania region thanks to its longer range. Virgin Australia launched a new service between Cairns and Tokyo Haneda on Wednesday and will deploy the MAX on this route from the end of July.

Monkey Mia

The first MAX is called Monkey Mia and registered VH-8IA and is named 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 aircraft is also the first of 66 MAX that has been delivered to China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC). Deputy CEO Winnie Liu said in a media statement: The arrival of the first 737-8 not only marks a milestone in CALC’s history as it is the first aircraft type in our fleet but also boasts unparalleled fuel efficiency and gives strong support to the airline’s sustainable fleet optimization program”

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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