Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) has announced the signing of a firm order agreement with Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) for the purchase of eight A350-1000s in addition to the longterm lease of four of the same type from Air Lease Corporation. The UK carrier also has a lease "option" for a fifth aircraft.

Deliveries of the Airbus-sourced jets are due to commence in 2019 while of the four ALC aircraft, two are due in spring 2020 with the other two due in spring 2021. All aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

The UK carrier will use the A350 order to replace its fleet of B747-400s which currently stands at seven. As such, the A350s will be initially be deployed to London Heathrow where they will strengthen Virgin's business-oriented transatlantic network. Thereafter, they will then be placed at London Gatwick for use on leisure routes to the Caribbean.

During the announcement ceremony at the 2016 Farnborough International Airshow, Virgin Atlantic CEO Craig Kreeger noted the airline was still considering its future plans insofar as its order for six A380-800s is concerned. Ordered back in 2001, Virgin was to have taken delivery of them as far back as 2006. However, owing to a change in market dynamics, their arrival has been continuously pushed back with a 2018 delivery date now touted.