Another Lufthansa Boeing 747 is making a one-way trip to the Mojave Desert. The aircraft, a -400, is the latest to leave the fleet, having been stored at the facility in Tarbes, France, due to the pandemic.
2020 wasn’t a great year from the queen of the skies, with many airlines from British Airways to Qantas retiring the aging aircraft a few years ahead of schedule. Thankfully, with a fleet of relatively young Boeing 747-8s, Lufthansa remains committed to the double-decker. However, some of the older -400s are in the process of being retired, with another leaving the Lufthansa fleet today.
Farewell ‘Victor Tango’
Today it is the turn of Lufthansa’s ‘Victor Tango’ to fly to the Mojave desert. The aircraft being retired is D-ABVT. At 23 years of age, the aircraft isn’t the oldest in the Lufthansa fleet, but it is up there. According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft took its first flight and was delivered in April 1997.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
In the days before COVID-19, the aircraft was making regular flights for the German flag carrier, flying around the world most days. However, in March 2020, everything changed. The aging Boeing 747s were one of the first aircraft grounded when Lufthansa suddenly needed to reduce its capacity.
As such, D-ABVT made its final passenger flight on March 19th according to RadarBox.com. This saw it operating LH471 from Toronto (YYZ) to Frankfurt (FRA). Having spent the early summer in Frankfurt, the aircraft was flown to Tarbes (LDE) in France for longer-term storage on June 17th.
While Lufthansa is continuing to fly aircraft to Tarbes, it seems as though they are now also removing aircraft. Yesterday, VT departed Tarbes flying back to Frankfurt as LH9923. According to the airline, the aircraft will depart Frankfurt for Los Angeles International (LAX) as LH9922 today. Having flown to Los Angeles, the aircraft will tomorrow make one short final flight across to the Mojave Desert (MHV).
Will other aircraft follow?
This isn’t the first aircraft that has made the long trip to the Mojave Desert for Lufthansa. In early November, Simple Flying reported that D-ABVP was also flying to the facility. That aircraft had been used in the effort to repatriate Germans stranded in New Zealand.
VP had been stored at Twente in the Netherlands. The aircraft caused many bothers, as it turned out that such large aircraft were not approved to depart the facility as their weight could potentially cause damage. However, they were granted a one-off in this case. Officially Lufthansa retired just five Boeing 747-400s in early April. However, the longer the COVID-19 pandemic drags on, the less likely it looks that any will return to the skies.
Did you fly on D-ABVT? Will you miss Lufthansa’s Boeing 747-400s? Let us know what you think and why in the comments.