Virgin Debuting New Dreamliner On Boston Route

June 24--Virgin Atlantic is hoping for an edge when it debuts the second-generation Boeing Dreamliner aircraft this fall on Logan International Airport's most competitive international route.

The British airline yesterday said it will use the first of its $5 billion 787-9 fleet for its nonstop flights between Boston and London's Heathrow Airport.

Virgin will use the larger "stretch" version of the high-tech, carbon-composite jet six times a week starting Oct. 28. It will continue to use an Airbus A330 for the seventh day. "We've been flying to Boston for over 20 years, and we wanted to give some of our most seasoned customers the opportunity to experience our new aircraft, product and service," spokeswoman Laura Kilroy said.

The 787-9 fuselage is 20 feet longer than the 787-8 used at Logan by Japan Airlines and Hainan Airlines. The plane also holds 38 more passengers and has 23 percent more cargo room.

It will be 21 percent more fuel-efficient on a per-flight basis than the equivalent-sized aircraft in Virgin's fleet, allowing it to be a major driver of the airline's "return to profitability," the company said.

Virgin plans a new version of its upper-class suite and a premium-economy "Wander Wall," a social space where passengers can stretch and mingle. Tickets for the flights go on sale Thursday.

Boeing announced last week that the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency had certified the 787-9 for commercial service. Air New Zealand is expected to take first delivery, possibly this month.

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