Virgin Australia orders 25 Boeing 737 Max 10s, cancels previous deal

© Image Virgin

Virgin Australia Group has announced it has reached an agreement with Boeing to restructure its B737 MAX order and delivery schedule

09 December 2020

The restructured order book now consists of 25 B737 MAX 10 aircraft which are scheduled for delivery from mid-2023, providing greater efficiencies to the airline as well as a better flying experience for customers. The airline will no longer receive the B737 MAX 8.

Virgin Australia Group CEO and Managing Director Jayne Hrdlicka said the agreement represents a deep commitment to the future from the airline’s new owners, Bain Capital, and will allow Virgin Australia to appropriately manage future fleet requirements amid what has been the worst year in the history of aviation.

“We have already moved to simplify our mainline fleet and committed to the Boeing 737 aircraft as the backbone of our future domestic and short-haul international operations,” Ms Hrdlicka said.

“The restructured agreement and changes to the delivery schedule of the Boeing 737 MAX 10 gives us the flexibility to continually review our future fleet requirements, particularly as we wait for international travel demand to return.

“The MAX 10 will allow us to build on the operational flexibility we have been able to achieve with our existing fleet throughout administration to ensure we remain competitive on the other side of COVID-19.”

Recognising the recertification of the Boeing 737 MAX by the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators, Virgin Australia Group remains confident that global return to service plans will support its arrival in mid-2023. This, alongside design features such as the Boeing Sky Interior and higher seating capacity, make for a better product for customers and the environment.

“These enhancements will give us the ability to manage demand and deploy the B737 MAX 10 on high-density domestic and short-haul international routes or where there are constraints due to slot availability limitations.

“We will also continue to invest in capability that delivers a safe and efficient aircraft operation, and one that ensures safety remains our top priority. With support from Boeing, any new aircraft will undergo careful evaluation to ensure we are comfortable with it prior to entering service.”

Virgin Australia Group remains in discussions with aircraft manufacturers on a fleet strategy to support the reintroduction of widebody services when long-haul international travel demand returns.


25 x Boeing 737 MAX 10

First aircraft scheduled to arrive in July 2021

23 x Boeing 737 MAX 8

First aircraft scheduled to arrive in February 2025



25 x Boeing 737 MAX 10

First aircraft scheduled to arrive in mid-2023


A Message to JetBlue Crewmembers from Joanna Geraghty on Phasing Out Seat Blocks, Guided by Science

© Image Jetblue

November 12, 2020

Dear Crewmembers,

I want to thank you for delivering Safety from the Ground Up. Your commitment during these challenging times is surpassing expectations and has led to some of our highest Customer satisfaction scores ever. This is a remarkable achievement given all the challenges thrown at us and how little we knew about the virus when this started.

I’m proud we led the industry in limiting the number of Customers on board to give everyone more space. While this helped reassure Customers of our commitment to their well-being when we were still trying to understand this virus, we have always been confident that the potential for transmission on the aircraft is extremely low. The cabin air system and hospital-grade HEPA filters make the aircraft safer than most other indoor environments, and our face coverings policy – the first among U.S. airlines – provides an additional layer of safety.

Now a growing number of studies from respected researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the U.S. Department of DefenseIATA, and Airbus support this understanding. With the science validating the safety of the aircraft cabin, JetBlue will phase out seat blocks by early 2021:

  • We previously announced plans to limit onboard capacity to 70% and no longer guarantee empty middle or adjacent seats for travel from October 15 through December 1.
  • During the busy holiday season, from December 2 through January 7, 2021, we will limit onboard capacity to 85%, but specific seats will no longer be blocked and we will not guarantee empty middle or adjacent seats.
  • Starting January 8, 2021, we’ll make all seats available for sale during the winter period when demand is typically lower and flights are often less full.

Letting Science Guide Us
Studies like the recent report from Harvard researchers confirm that the layers of protection we have in place make the aircraft as safe or substantially safer than other more common settings, like grocery shopping or indoor dining. The research shows that the advanced hospital-grade HEPA air filtration systems actually compensate for the reduced distance between Customers. In fact, the Department of Defense found the air in our cabins to be as safe or safer than the air in your own home or in a hospital operating room.

Giving Customers Flexibility
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve given Customers flexibility in their travel. With today’s update to our policy, we’ll do the right thing by offering flexibility for those who want to change their plans. Our current Back and Forth With Confidence program offers changes and cancellations with no fees for any travel dates. Customers who booked November 13 or before for travel on January 8 or later are eligible for a full refund to their original form of payment if requested by November 27.

Projecting Jobs & Our Financial Security
We’ve had two priorities since the start of this crisis – the first is the safety of our Crewmembers and Customers. The second is maintaining our financial security so we can preserve Crewmember jobs. When we started blocking middle seats, Crewmembers were quick to point out that it would not be financially sustainable over the long term. Since most other airlines have stopped blocking all middle seats, one of the most common questions we hear is what will our policy be? I’m pleased that our phased approach has offered a thoughtful path forward while giving us the time needed to understand the science and stay true to our #1 priority – safety.

Once again, thank you to all of you for making Safety from the Ground Up an integral part of the JetBlue experience. As we head into the holiday season, the best gift we can give each other is that of a healthy travel experience during these exceptionally difficult times. I know that we can deliver that together.




Joanna Geraghty
President & COO


First-ever Finnair virtual reality flight to see Santa delivers some magic this festive season

© Image Finnair

Families will soon be able to fly with Finnair to see Santa in Lapland, thanks to the magic of virtual reality (VR)

From 25 December, Finnair will offer eight ‘flights’ using virtual reality to transport lucky families and children to visit Santa in his hometown of Rovaniemi.
Finnair, which is Santa’s official airline, is using VR to offer customers an immersive 360-degree experience. The flights are created by Finnish VR studio Zoan with one of the most advanced real-time 3D graphics tools, Unreal Engine. Virtual customers can enjoy a flight on their mobile phones or laptops where they will experience the thrill of sitting in Finnair’s comfortable Nordic Business Class. You can also use a VR headset that can access a web browser and open a video.

You can enjoy refreshments served by cabin crew, admire the starry skies and gaze upon the dramatic northern lights from your ‘seat’. The VR experience will also offer familiar flight soundscapes, festive decorations and perhaps even the glimpse of a familiar festive figure sitting in one of the other seats! After landing in the wintry city of Rovaniemi, customers will be able to cross the Arctic Circle and enter Santa’s cabin to meet Santa Claus himself.

Each of the eight VR flights to Lapland lasts about thirty minutes and costs just €10 per person. Seats can be reserved from the Finnair Shop. Besides experiencing something wonderfully festive, lucky customers who board the virtual flight will also be giving something towards those who are less fortunate and need help. All proceeds will go to supporting UNICEF’s work to slow the spread of Covid-19 and minimise the pandemic’s impact on children worldwide.

Mikko Turtiainen, Finnair VP of Global Sales, said: “Thanks to the magic of Virtual Reality, Finnair can ‘fly’ families to Rovaniemi in Lapland – despite the travel restrictions – to enjoy a winter wonderland and meet Santa. I hope this brings a big smile to those participating.”

“As Santa’s official airline, we’re excited to harness modern technology to create a truly memorable holiday experience. Our customers around the world will be able to enjoy the timeless wonder and holiday cheer of Finnish Lapland from the comfort of their own homes, while enjoying the thrill of sitting in Finnair Business Class. We hope it will inspire them to travel again once the time is right.”

Sanna Kärkkäinen, CEO of Visit Rovaniemi, said: “The time could not be better for a holiday VR experience on the wings of Santa’s official airline. We’ve been developing our VR experience in Rovaniemi for over a year now and joining forces with Finnair is a fantastic way to reach a global audience with a seasonal message – and a heart full of hope.”

The lack of high-quality content offerings has been one of the biggest barriers to mainstream adoption of VR technologies, but Finnair has been pioneering VR since 2016. It first used VR to showcase its Airbus A350 cabin experience at industry events with specially provided headsets.

The Covid-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst to speed up the adoption of virtual experiences among consumers. As people have become more comfortable with virtual reality, Finnair has been able to demonstrate through the VR flight concept that mainstream virtual events can go beyond simple online meetings or videos to create a more meaningful and engaging experience.

Tiina Tissari, VP of Customer Experience and Products at Finnair, said: “We think VR is an important tool which could be used to complement the physical in-flight experience. Customers could, for instance, choose their holiday destination or make travel plans by checking out sights and locations through VR. We also believe the in-flight experience will become more personalised so that customers can customise and enhance their journey to fit their individual needs and preferences. VR could also be a valuable tool here.”

Air Baltic

airBaltic presents its 2021 calendar, the models of each of the 12 months are airBaltic employees

Air Baltic
© Image Air Baltic

This week the Latvian airline airBaltic presents the annual calendar of 2021 – Wings for the New Beginnings. Traditionally, the models of each of the 12 months are airBaltic employees

As the title of the calendar suggests, airBaltic expects that 2021 will mark a new beginning, a new era in aviation – clean, green and as full of passion as ever.

This year’s edition of the airBaltic calendar promotes Airbus A220-300 aircraft and the new core values of the company that have been developed in correspondence with airBaltic’s strategic priorities. airBaltic takes great pride in the fact that its jet fleet is the youngest in Europe and, as of this year, consists solely of one of the world’s greenest commercial aircraft – Airbus A220-300.

Air Baltic
© Image Air Baltic

The calendar’s photos were taken by Aiga Rēdmane, who has collaborated with airBaltic for several years now. Her assistant was Ģirts Raģelis, stylist of the models was Līga Banga, but hair and makeup done by artists Aija Ūdentiņa and Viktorija Breikša.

As a truly Baltic airline connecting the region to the world, the designers and brands whose clothes the models are wearing in the calendar photos are all from the Baltic countries – Iveta Vecmane, Līga Banga, MaiMai, and MCouture (Latvia), Lilli Jahilo and Pohjanheimo (Estonia), and Undress (Lithuania).

Air Baltic
© Image Air Baltic

The new airBaltic calendar for 2021 in both wall and table formats are available for purchase at the company’s ticket office at Riga Airport as well as on company’s website:


Inspired by stranded singer’s heart-warming Christmas song, British Airways promises to fly her on her first flight home

When British-Australian songwriter Emmi wrote to British Airways with her moving Christmas record, First Plane Home, the airline felt compelled to share her music and message with its followers

The beautiful song is inspired by Emmi’s own experience. As a songwriter currently based in New York, she is unable to travel and see her loved ones in the UK or Australia this Christmas.

Emmi, a British Airways frequent flyer, emailed the airline with a copy of her song after its release at the end of November. She said: “I wrote this song as a letter to my family when I knew the current travel restrictions would prevent me returning to the US if I came home for Christmas. My heart broke at the realisation. I haven’t seen them for a year. But I know I’m not the only one separated from loved ones for issues which relate to the pandemic this year, so really this is a song for all of us. It’s a reflection on the year we’ve shared and a celebration of being alive and loved.”

Emmi’s song touched the hearts of everyone at British Airways. So much so that the airline has promised to reunite Emmi with her loved ones when she is able to travel freely again between the UK and the US. The special gesture forms part of their new campaign celebrating the gift that travel represents.

British Airways’ Director of Brand and Customer Experience, Carolina Martinoli, said: “Although British Airways has started flying to more destinations across the globe, we know many of our customers, like Emmi, will be separated from loved ones this holiday season as a result of the global pandemic. This song serves as a beautifully poignant reminder of how special travel is. When the time is right, British Airways is here for you – and we can’t wait to get you on that important plane home.”

Emmi added: “I know this is a feeling that will resonate with so many people around the globe during this different holiday season. But I hope it also spreads a unifying message of hope as we look forward to the new year. And when I do finally step onto that first flight home with British Airways, I know it’ll be a very special moment indeed. They couldn’t have given me or my family a gift more precious.”

British Airways is giving Emmi the gift of travel this Christmas as part of its new campaign about travel and re-connecting with loved ones being the seasonal gift its customers are most wishing for.


Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand go in search of 8th Wonder of the World in new safety video

Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand have launched a new safety video Aotearoa, the 8th Wonder of the World to help support the domestic tourism industry

Aotearoa, the 8th Wonder of the World sees destinations across the country put forward their submission to be named the 8th Wonder of the World.

Air New Zealand Chief Customer and Sales Officer Leanne Geraghty says Aotearoa, the 8th Wonder of the World is a high impact way to promote destinations across New Zealand, from Cape Reinga to Stewart Island, to both domestic and international audiences.

“With borders closed as a result of COVID-19, we’ve seen a significant impact on the New Zealand tourism industry. Around 30 percent of people flying on our domestic network are usually visitors from overseas. In the absence of international visitors, the safety video is a unique way to stimulate further local demand, benefiting local tourism operators, the New Zealand economy and Air New Zealand employees.

“The video also assists in supporting the recovery of international tourism once borders reopen. We know the decision-making process for visitors to come to New Zealand will be different into the future – so we need to be building the appeal and desire now in international markets in anticipation of borders reopening. It’s important to keep New Zealand as a visitor destination top of mind.”

Tourism New Zealand Director Commercial René de Monchy says, “Tourism is vital to New Zealand’s recovery and the safety video is another way we are encouraging Kiwis to do something new, by showcasing the amazing range of experiences on offer in Aotearoa. The video also supports our activity offshore to keep New Zealand alive in the hearts and minds of international visitors for when they are able to return.”

Air New Zealand has had to be creative with a lot smaller budget this year, shared between Tourism New Zealand and the airline.