Bloomberg is reporting that Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 engine issues have forced the airline to ask Delta to operate one of the daily flights between New York JFK and London Heathrow. This will continue for the rest of October 2017.
This is an interesting development as it goes on to state that Virgin “also took some (787s) out of service in April.” The article puts a positive spin on things, using this as a good example of the two airlines close relationship.
Boeing 787 Engine Issues
An article in an Aviation Week publication called InsideMRO states the engine issues are due to corrosion related fatigue cracking of the intermediate pressure turbine blades, first discovered in 2016 at ANA. Engines showing the issue are removed from service and repaired.
Turbine blades that are more corrosion resistant have been developed so the engine issues are being addressed. However it appears that aircraft are being removed from service to accommodate the repairs such as in Virgin Atlantic’s case.
Virgin Atlantic is 49% owned by Delta, 30% owned by Air France/KLM and 21% by the Virgin Group. As the majority shareholder it is not surprising that Delta has come to the rescue in this instance.
The two airlines are already part of an immunised transatlantic joint venture meaning they sell seats on each others flights, share costs and pool revenue. Therefore it is not strange this is happening.
The Future of Virgin Atlantic
It is interesting that Delta and Air France/KLM own the majority of Virgin Atlantic. These are two of the largest carriers in the SkyTeam Alliance. Could we see Virgin Atlantic join the alliance in the future? It seems quite possible.
New Airbus A350-900s are due to come online from 2019 to replace the remainder of the four engine fleet which means the Boeing 747-400s and Airbus A340s will be replaced by a far more fuel efficient aircraft. This should lower costs on the routes currently served by the older aircraft.
Quite frankly I was surprised to learn the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engine issues were so bad. Causing an airline to hand over a route to another airline to operate due to aircraft availability is a little unusual. It indicates to me there is little slack in Virgin’s operation which is a good thing.
It remains to be seen what happens to Virgin Atlantic in the future, but it is one to watch. Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
To never miss a post, you can follow me on Facebook, and I am on Twitter and Instagram too!
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here if you want to see more.
Featured image by Mark Harkin, Delta image by Magic Aviation, both via Wikimedia Commons.
Additional information from FlightGlobal and thanks to Kevin for the heads up!