By Will Lee
Virgin Atlantic Honors the Late Queen Elizabeth II
Virgin Atlantic Airways recently announced that its brand-new Airbus A330neo will be named “Queen of the Skies” with royal registration G-VEII, in tribute to the late monarch. Queen Elizabeth II — the country’s longest-serving monarch — passed away on Sep. 8, after reigning for seven decades.
The new aircraft will enter the transatlantic services in April, with flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to Miami, New York and Tampa, Fla.
“Just like Queen Elizabeth during her historic 70-year reign, Virgin Atlantic is proud to fly the flag for the United Kingdom around the world. We’re delighted to soon be welcoming “Queen of the skies” to our fleet and hope that it serves as a fitting tribute to an unforgettable, much-loved monarch,” Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operations Officer of the airline said, in a statement.
“Queen of the skies” is best known for Boeing 747’s nickname and Virgin Atlantic has named its aircraft “Queen of the skies” twice. However, the name was never related to the former jumbo aircraft. In 2004, the late Queen unveiled an Airbus A340-600 with the same name in Toulouse, France. The ceremony was part of a state visit to France to celebrate the centenary of Entente Cordiale.
The carrier has a history of naming its aircraft after famous female icons, including “Diana” in tribute to Princess Diana. According to Virgin Atlantic, the “Queen of the Skies” will be in line with “Lady Emmeline” and “Fearless lady” to provide services to passengers, which paid homage to Emmeline Pankhurst and Eve Branson respectively. Pankhurst was the founder of the Suffragette movement and women’s rights activist, and Branson was the mother of Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Atlantic.
The airline was the first U.K. airline to announce a firm order for up to 16 Airbus A330neos in 2019. The A330neo is powered by Rolls-Royce’s Trent 7000 engine. The acquisition could pave the way for providing the greenest and youngest fleet to customers. The new aircraft is designed to be 13% more fuel and carbon efficient than the Airbus A330-300 and deliver a 50% reduction in airport noise contour.
The new aircraft operates in a three-class configuration, including Upper Class, Premium and Economy class. Passengers traveling in Upper Class and Premium can enjoy in-seat wireless charging. The customers in another cabin can also have a great number of USB connections and connect with its fastest Wi-Fi.
Virgin Atlantic believed the A330neo plays a significant role in its multi-billion dollars fleet transformation, demonstrating its commitment to the planet. The airline received the first A330neos in last September and currently operates three A330neos — with the remaining deliveries between 2023 and 2026.