Virgin Atlantic interested in Airbus A330neo, may delay A380s

LONDON, July 1 Tue Jul 1, 2014 10:04am EDT

LONDON, July 1 (Reuters) - Virgin Atlantic Airways threw its weight behind a possible revamp of the Airbus A330 jet on Tuesday, saying it would consider placing an order if the price and economics worked out correctly, but urged Airbus to make a rapid decision.

Airbus is considering whether to upgrade the wide-body jet, having selected Rolls-Royce as sole engine supplier for the possible upgraded version, industry sources have said.

"On paper it looks a fantastic offering. It will come with an increase in ownership costs, but as long as this is kept under control ... it will be appealing to a good number of airlines," Alan Leeks, the airline's head of strategic fleet planning, told the Ascend Flightglobal Finance Forum in London.

Asked whether Virgin Atlantic, which already operates current A330s, would consider placing an order for the upgraded version, he said "yes", adding that the revamped "A330neo" would offer a "very significant reduction" in fuel consumption.

Virgin Atlantic may, however, further delay taking delivery of six Airbus A380 superjumbos that it has long had on order, he added. (Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by James Regan)