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Virgin eyes gyms, casino, double beds on A380 jet
Updated: 2005-01-18 16:35

Gyms, beauty parlours, private double beds and an in-flight casino will feature on Virgin Atlantic's giant Airbus A380 planes when it starts flying them in three years' time, the airline's half-owner Richard Branson said.

In this undated image released by Airbus Industries, an interior view is seen of the the Airbus A380 superjumbo passenger jet's forward upper deck cabin. [AP/file]

"Since you have gaming and you have private double beds maybe there are two ways of getting lucky on a Virgin plane," entrepreneur Branson told reporters in France.

Announcing Virgin's plans for the double-decker jet to be unveiled later on Tuesday in Toulouse, France, Branson said a gym and gambling area offering blackjack and roulette would be available to economy and business class passengers.

Virgin Atlantic, which already offers seats which convert into double beds on some of its existing aircraft, plans to install 35 private double beds on each A380.

First prototype of the new Airbus A380. Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways will add 50 more destinations to its network in the next five years and buy new aircraft, including the A380, to keep pace with its ambitious growth plans, the airline said. [AFP]

Virgin Atlantic, which is 49 percent owned by Singapore Airlines, has ordered six A380s with options for a further six, worth a total of $3 billion. The first aircraft is scheduled for delivery in May 2008.

Virgin Atlantic was originally scheduled to take delivery of the A380 in 2006 but delayed the plans due to concerns that some major airports, particularly Los Angeles, would not be ready to accommodate the plane in time, as well as delays in sourcing components for insome design novations.

Branson said Virgin Atlantic was now confident that airports were prepared and suggested the company would take up its options for a further six planes sooner rather than later.

"The chances are we are going to want more than six," he said.

He also said that A380 parent Airbus had guaranteed Virgin the plane would deliver lower operating costs and had promised to compensate the airline if cost savings dropped below a certain level.

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