Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) is at an advanced stage in negotiations with Airbus for an order of between six and ten A330neo.

The UK carrier has been evaluating the upgraded widebody against the B787, sources close to the matter have told Reuters. However, both sides declined to comment further.

The airline currently has fourteen A330s in its fleet (four A330-200s, ten A330-300s), along with six A340-600s (including one stored), eight B747-400s, and seventeen B787-9s, according to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module.

Virgin Atlantic will also introduce twelve A350-1000s into its fleet by 2021, the first of which will begin service on London Heathrow-New York JFK in August, the carrier has said in a press release, while the B747s and A340s will be phased out.

As the A330s have an average age of 18.1 years (-200 version) and 7.6 years (-300), the aim may be to gradually replace them with the neo version. Another issue that may be guiding Virgin Atlantic's decision is the ongoing problem with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines on the B787, which have grounded several of its aircraft of this type for weeks or months.

It is already leasing four former Air Berlin A330-200s, one from Global Knafaim Leasing, MD Aviation Capital, AerCap and FLY Leasing each, in order to “provide extra resilience in light of the global industry shortage of Trent 1000 engines”, the airline said in June 2018.