Airbus delivers first ever A321neo to Virgin America

  • Aircraft powered by CFM engines boosts fuel efficiency by at least 15 percent
  • Significant reductions in emissions and noise

Hamburg, Germany, April 20, 2017 – Airbus has delivered the first-ever A321neo. The latest generation aircraft powered by CFM International’s LEAP-1A engines was handed over to U.S. airline Virgin America, an all-Airbus operator, at a ceremony in Hamburg, Germany.

“After Virgin America having been the first customer signing for the A320neo back in December 2010, we are today delighted to deliver the first A321neo to them,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus Chief Operating Officer and President Commercial Aircraft. “With our largest, latest, most fuel efficient NEO Single Aisle aircraft we are turning a new page. The new A321neo powered by next generation CFM LEAP-1A engines guarantees new levels of efficiency and longer range to its operators, greater comfort to the flying public and less emissions and noise to the airport communities. Thanks to its cutting edge technologies it is today the most eco-sensitive Single Aisle aircraft available.” 

The A320neo significantly reduces noise levels, generating only half the noise footprint compared to previous generation aircraft. Equipped with fuel-saving Sharklet wingtip devices nitrous oxide emissions are 50 percent below regulatory requirements as outlined by the Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection (CAEP). In addition, the aircraft with LEAP-1A engines is proven to deliver at least a 15 percent fuel savings compared to Virgin America’s current generation aircraft, which is equivalent to cutting 5,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions with each plane every year.

“We have been with Virgin America from the beginning and we are excited to launch this new chapter in that relationship,” said Gael Meheust, President and CEO of CFM International. “The LEAP-1A has done extremely well in its first months of commercial service. It is proving unprecedented levels of fuel efficiency and environmental responsibility while maintaining the level of reliability Virgin America has come to expect from CFM. We think they will be very pleased with all this engine has to offer.”  

The A321neo is the largest member of the A320neo Family. It covers the entire market, from high density to long-range thin routes. There are currently over 1,300 units on order.

“We are honored to be the first operator of this high in-demand aircraft,” said Virgin America President Peter Hunt, speaking at the ceremony attended by Virgin America teammates, Executives from Airbus, CFM and the aircraft lessor GECAS. “The new A321neo – the third member of the Airbus A320 Family to join our Virgin America fleet – will allow us to further reduce our unit costs and enable us to further reduce our carbon emissions.”

“Increased operational efficiency, productivity, and state-of-the-art technology -- this winning combination makes the A321neo an attractive investment for leasing companies like GECAS who are committed to meeting customers’ operational needs while providing the latest technology and a solid return on investment,” said Alec Burger, President and CEO at GECAS.  “The low operating costs and reliability of the LEAP powered A320neo Family make it a strong asset in GECAS’ portfolio.”

Virgin America currently operates a fleet of 63 Airbus A320 family aircraft comprised of A319ceo and A320ceo aircraft powered by CFM’s CFM56-5B engines.

The new A321neo will become the largest aircraft in Virgin America’s fleet, featuring 185 seats - a 24 percent higher capacity at same comfort levels than its current A320s. Inside the cabin, Virgin America flyers will continue to enjoy three custom-designed classes of service, touch-screen personal entertainment and an on-demand food and cocktail menu on every flight in addition to power outlets at every seat. The aircraft is expected to enter service on May 31, 2017 with its inaugural flight from San Francisco International Airport (SFO) to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA).

As first announced in April 2016, Virgin America was acquired by Alaska Air Group in December 2016.

Contacts for the Media

Airbus

Bart Greer

+15713067246

M: +17033341571

barton.greer@airbus.com

Heiko Stolzke

+494074373016

M: +4915146150714

heiko.stolzke@airbus.com

Martina Jürgens

+494074372413

M: +491707657839

martina.juergens@airbus.com

CFM

Jamie Jewell

+15135522790

M: +15138852282

jamie.jewell@ge.com

Charles Soret

+33169870929

M:+33631609679

charles.soret@safrangroup.com

Virgin America

Jennifer Thomas

+12022716266

jennifer.thomas@virginamerica.com

Sean Harris

+16505541971

sean.harris@virginamerica.com

About Airbus

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2016, it generated revenues of € 67 billion and employed a workforce of around 134,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as Europe’s number one space enterprise and the world’s second largest space business. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

About CFM

LEAP-1A engines are a product of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines and the world's leading supplier of commercial aircraft engines.  To date, the company has garnered orders and commitments for more than 12,230 LEAP engines, making it the fastest-selling engine in aviation history.  For more information concerning CFM, visit us on the Web at www.cfmaeroengines.com or follow us on Twitter @CFM_engines.

About Virgin America

Virgin America customers continue to enjoy three custom-designed classes of service, touch-screen personal entertainment and an on-demand food and cocktail menu on every flight in addition to power outlets at every seat. The Main Cabin Select service offers free food and cocktails, power outlets, an all-access pass to media, dedicated overhead bins and priority check-in/boarding. Virgin America was named the "Best U.S. Airline" in Condé Nast Traveler's Readers' Choice Awards and "Best Domestic Airline" in Travel + Leisure's World's Best Awards for the past nine consecutive years. Virgin America is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group. Alaska Airlines and Virgin America along with their regional partners, fly 40 million customers a year to 118 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and Cuba. Learn more at newsroomvirginamerica.com@VirginAmericafacebook.com/VirginAmerica and linkedin.com/company/virginamerica,  newsroom.alaskaair.com and blog.alaskaair.com