A few highlights from the Virgin Atlantic Sustainability Report

Today Virgin Atlantic have released their 2017 Sustainability Report. Aptly named “Change is in the air”, the report details the airline (Virgin Atlantic) and sister tour operator (Virgin Holidays) performance and sustainability figures for the year 2016. It is actually very interesting to read. You can view the full report here, or I’ve noted some highlights below.

Customers, CO2 and Punctuality

  • The airline flew more than 5,436,000 customers on 21,883 flights to 26 nonstop destinations.


  • Virgin Atlantic’s on-time performance is measured with the amount of flights which arrive within 15-minutes of their scheduled arrival time. For 2016, this figure was 81% which is actually very impressive. Especially if you compare that to some other airlines.


  • The total amount of aircraft CO2 emissions released was 4.04m tonnes in 2016. That equates to a 7% reduction versus last year (vly) and an impressive 22% reduction since 2007. For me that is fantastic news and I hope that other airlines can also manage a reduction like this, something which can be very hard to achieve. Every single item on board can contribute to increased fuel burn. Hence why airlines are strict at enforcing extra fees if your luggage is heavy.

New Aircraft

  • Virgin Atlantic announced a further investment into efficient aircraft with an order for 12 Airbus A350-1000’s which are slated to join the airline from 2019. There’s a little more info further on…


  • The twin-engine aircraft will replace Virgin Atlantic’s less fuel-efficient Boeing 747-400 which currently fly on the carrier’s leisure routes to the Caribbean and Orlando. I had the opportunity to tour an A350XWB a couple of years ago and I was very impressed. It doesn’t have the uniqueness of a 747, but is a solid option to carry Virgin Atlantic forward in the future.

Inside the Airbus A350 test aircraft. I took this photo in June 2015.


What does the current Virgin Atlantic fleet look like?

According to the report, VS’s fleet is made up of:
33% – Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners
25% – Airbus A330-3
21% – Airbus A340-6
21% – Boeing 747-4

By the end of 2021, Virgin Atlantic expect to operate a solely twin-engine fleet. I for one will be sad to see the retirement of their Boeing 747-400 aircraft; but these aircraft aren’t very fuel-efficient and as times move forward it is important for airlines to look to reduce their carbon footprint in any way possible. The airline did a great job with the refresh of their Boeing 747 aircraft so they could last a few more years. It’s expected that each A350 could provide 30% worth of savings per trip compared to the queen of the skies. That’s a hefty chunk!

Food, Drink and Sustainability

  • 57% of Virgin Atlantic’s worldwide flights were catered by suppliers whom achieved at least one star in Virgin Atlantic’s very own sustainability standards. VS’s standards are derived from the Sustainable Restaurant Association – which focuses on the sourcing, society and environmental performance of a catering establishment. Whether that is a restaurant or airline caterer.

As I mentioned earlier, these are just a few of the many statistics available within the Sustainability Report, but I find it to be very interesting and think that Virgin Atlantic are making all the right moves to help reduce their carbon footprint, protect our environment and look at more sustainable and cost-efficient ways across many aspects of their organisation.

What do you think about these results?

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