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With the induction of new fleet, premier British carrier Virgin Atlantic would introduce new Airbus A330s on its Delhi route from July and is looking at launching operations to new destinations in India.
The airline was also investing 100 million pounds to enhance its Upper Class offering on its entire route network, like an enhanced seat, a futuristic bar, a new ‘fine dining’ experience, new crockery and in-flight entertainment system.
The new Upper Class cabin would be launched on Virgin’s new Airbus A330-300 aircraft, due for delivery later this spring. With the introduction of the new wide-body jet, the airline will enhance its Upper Class offering with new enhanced seats, in-flight dining, crockery and in-flight entertainment systems. It will also offer a futuristic bar.
The flights to Delhi route would be among the first in the airline’s network to operated using the brand new aircraft.
The Delhi route would be among the first in Virgin’s network to get one of these brand new planes from July, the airline’s Chief Commercial Officer Julie Southern told PTI here.
Virgin, which suspended its flights to Mumbai service in 2009, is planning to beef up its India operations by considering options like starting double daily flights to Delhi and from Delhi and looking for new destinations, she said.
“We may add to Delhi or look at other destinations with flights to India. The Delhi-London route is showing strong growth and flights beyond London also. Increased numbers of passengers are flying to Newark,” Southern said.
Virgin would continue to focus on “flying more Indians from Delhi to West coast in USA and to Vancouver, when it is launched in May this year. Extra services were also being planned for San Francisco from London, a route popular with the Indian population,” she said, adding, “We are extending to the East Coast of the US too.”
To a question on the European Union imposing a carbon tax on all flights over its airspace, Southern favoured global resolution to the dispute.
She said Virgin Atlantic had tied up with LanzaTech, a dominant technology provider in the industrial bio-commodities arena, to achieve a breakthrough in aviation fuel technology to capture, ferment and chemically convert waste gases from industrial steel production for use as jet fuel.
“Apart from China, we are looking at India which will produce this revolutionary fuel. We are hopeful that within three years or 2014, our flights to London from Delhi should be running on the new fuel.
“The revolutionary fuel production process recycles waste gases that would otherwise be burnt into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide,” Southern said.
On Delhi’s airport operator DIAL’s plans to seek a hefty hike in airport charges, the top Virgin officer said, “It is sad that airports around the world are getting pretty expensive places to operate, like Heathrow…Indian airports and Delhi (airport) need to be an attractive place to retain their position (as attractive destinations).”
On whether the hike in airport tariff would be passed on to the flyer, she said “very strong carriers” were flying from Delhi and the Indian passengers had a range of choice and were price-sensitive.
“It is not a straight line here” that airfares would rise by the same proportion as the hike in tariff, she said.