In a deal worth more than $5.5 billion, Virgin Atlantic Airways is to take delivery of thirteen new A340-600 Airbus aircraft with options for a further thirteen.
Each aircraft will be equipped with four Rolls Royce Trent 500 engines and deliveries will take place between 2006-08.
The new aircraft will enable Virgin to increase the number of passengers it carries from four million to eight million. To do so the company will add capacity around its existing network like the US, China, Japan, India, the Caribbean and Africa in addition to adding new destinations.
The new Airbus A340-600 series retains the same fuselage cross section as the -300, but is some 11.6m longer, at 75.3m, making it the longest civil aircraft in the world.
The A340-600 is designed to fly over 7250 nautical miles with a full payload of passengers and is currently configured with 306 seats in the Virgin Atlantic three class layout.
The aircraft is almost precisely 50% British built – the engines are built by Rolls Royce in Derby and the wings manufactured by Airbus-UK, Broughton. The final assembly takes place at Toulouse.