Way back in the yesteryear of 2001, Virgin Atlantic decided to put down a deposit on the latest and greatest aircraft to be released to the market… the A380.
But they would go on to never receive and fly the aircraft leaving many to wonder what could have been.
What would have the Virgin A380 been like?
Onboard we would have seen something really special from the Virgin team, with the extra space on an A380 they would have put it to good use.
Following the footsteps of the middle eastern airlines like Qatar and Emirates, Virgin Atlantic would have most likely placed a business lounge onboard, a communal economy area and even a private suite and a shower.
The business class would have been upgraded with the new Virgin Upper Class design that is debuting later this year.
Where would it have flown?
We only need to look at Virgin Atlantic rival British Airways to see where the A380 would have flown.
London to New York would have been an obvious choice. With many flights a day, this route easily has the capacity to support a daily (or even twice daily) A380 flight.
Another destination that would have utilized the A380 would have been the holidaymaker route of London to Orlando.
In previous holiday seasons, Virgin Atlantic has been known to send up to eight Boeing 747s loaded with tourists towards the city known for its amusement parks and Disneyland. An A380 on this route would be instantly profitable and very lucrative for Virgin Atlantic.
Why did they cancel their A380 order?
In reality, Virgin Atlantic would go on to cancel their A380 order with Airbus.
At first, they simply deferred their 2006 delivery date. It may have had something to do with Delta becoming an investor in Virgin Atlantic (and their dislike of the A380 aircraft is well known), putting pressure on the executive to delay the order as long as possible.
“Following a thorough review of our fleet we have taken the decision not to pursue our order for six Airbus A380,” says the carrier.” – Virgin Atlantic to Flight Global
In 2016, Virgin Atlantic would go on to order six A350-1000s as their new flagship aircraft (soon to fly this year). The order for the Virgin A380s vanished from the Airbus A380 order sheet. It is possible that the A380 deposit was moved from one production line to the next.
“We believe the A350-1000 will best serve our customers and network and will enable us to continue reducing the carbon emissions from our fleet, through our ongoing investment in quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft,” – Virgin Atlantic continued in the same Flight Global article.
With the A380 now no longer in production (well still technically being built but will wrap up in the next few years), there may be no chance we see one of these aircraft flying in the Virgin livery (unless Virgin Australia, the only other Virgin airline in the world pulls a U-turn).