Virgin Atlantic has sold two Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft in a deal expected to generate up to £70 million ($92.8 million) for the airline. The airline will continue to operate the aircraft, as they will be leased from the new owner.
Many airlines have turned to sale and leaseback agreements for their existing aircraft due to the current situation. When an airline owns an airplane, they own the assets’ value but are unable to use them. By selling the aircraft, they get a substantial instant cash bonus while moving to pay for the aircraft on a termly basis.
Selling two Boeing 787s
Sky News first revealed Virgin Atlantic had sold two Boeing 787 Dreamliners to Griffin Global Asset Management, backed by Bain Capital. Incidentally, Bain Capital is the new owner of Virgin Australia. According to the publication, Virgin Atlantic will receive a cash enhancement of up to £70 million ($92.8 million) due to the transaction.
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Virgin Atlantic has 17 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. According to data from Planespotters.net, none are currently listed as leased from Global Asset Management. Four are now not listed as being leased, suggesting that Virgin has sold two of the following aircraft:
- G-VDIA – Lucy in the Sky – 5 years old
- G-VMAP – West End Girl – 4.6 years old
- G-VNYL – Penny Lane – 2.7 years old
- G-VOWS – Maid Marian – 5 years old
Sky News goes on to say that some of the £170 million lent to Virgin Atlantic by Davidson Kempner Capital Management will be partially repaid with the funds. A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson told the publication,
“This financing opportunity, regarding two of our 787s, allows us to pay down debt and improve our cash position going into 2021… We are confident that Virgin Atlantic will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis a sustainably profitable airline, with a healthy balance sheet.”
Virgin Atlantic’s current fleet
Virgin Atlantic has seen its fleet shrink since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. The airline has bid farewell to its final Airbus A340 aircraft. These should’ve been retired before the global crisis but were standing in for grounded 787 aircraft. The airline finished the 787’s Trent 1000 engine swaps in May. Virgin also waved goodbye to its last Boeing 747s ahead of schedule.
The result of the retirements is a three aircraft family with an average age of 6.9 years. This consists of 17 Boeing 787s, seven Airbus A350s, and 14 Airbus A330s. Virgin Atlantic’s four A330-200s are next to leave the fleet, with an average age of 19.6 years. In the coming years, the airline is to continue taking delivery of its A350-1000 order, in addition to a new fleet of A330neo aircraft.
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