Virgin America took delivery of the first Airbus A321neo—a CFM Leap-1A-powered variant—during a Thursday handover ceremony in Hamburg, Germany. Airbus announced joint FAA-EASA certification of the Leap-powered A321neo on March 1, two-and-a-half months after the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-powered version gained its approval. The first Pratt-powered version remains undelivered, however, as Airbus continues to grapple with its engines’ “maturity issues.”
Alaska Air Group subsidiary Virgin America currently operates a fleet of 63 Airbus A320 family aircraft consisting of A319s and A320s powered by CFM56-5B turbofans.
The airline, which agreed to lease 10 A321neos from GECAS in December 15, plans to put its first Neo into service on May 31 on a flight from San Francisco International Airport to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Holding 185 passenger seats, Virgin America's A321neos will carry 24 percent more revenue capacity than its current A320s offer.