Can anyone shed some light on the current situation between Virgin and Airbus over the A340-600? Has deliveries been delayed? Have they been cancelled? Where does Boeing play in this, and are they interested in the 777?
"History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or timid." D. Eisenhower
On Friday August 1st, Airbus Industrie in a statement revealed Virgin Atlantic Airways and Air Canada are to become launch customers for its new A340-versions. Airbus says that Virgin has decided to acquire 16 A340-600, thereby becoming launch customer for the stretched A340 to be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500 engines. Commercial launch of the -600 that will accomodate up to 375 passengers took place in June during the Le Bourget airshow. Virgin will be the first operator to take delivery of the new aircraft from 2002. Said Richard Branson, Virgin chairman, commented: "Boeing make excellent aircraft, but it is in the interest of both the aircraft industry and the consumer, for them to have a strong competitor. It is therefore healthy to see a European manufacturer and a British engine maker giving their American counterparts a serious run for their money. Airbus and Rolls Royce are building the very best there is."
Air Canada also wants to acquire the A340-600, as well as the long-range version -500 that in a standard three class layout will carry 313 passengers 8300 nm (15400 km). In a letter of intent, the airline has set a March 1998 decision date for five of the new airplanes and ten options for first delivery in 2002. Details of the possible order split were not disclosed. Air Canada also announced it had signed a letter of intent to acquire five A330-300s and three A340-300s with options for 20 more aircraft.
I actually just read in Flight International that Virgin has pretty much delayed the launch of the plane for up to a year, leaving Airbus scrambling for a new launcher of the plane. Airbus is doing everything to get VS to not delay, but Virgin seems to not want to begin flying it just yet.
You can check out the magazine if you want, because I was only able to glance over it, but this is what I was able to deduce from the article.
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