Video: Spotters Get One Last Look At Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 747

As Virgin Atlantic retires its entire fleet of 747s, spotters had the opportunity to see the plane one last time at Manchester Airport. The aircraft was on its way to an airport in Spain for storage, flying for its final time. Let’s find out more.

Virgin Atlantic 747
A Virgin 747, named ‘Jersey Girl’, flew from Manchester yesterday. Photo: Tomás Del Coro via Flickr

A final goodbye

Virgin Atlantic’s announcement that it would retire its fleet of 747s immediately was heartbreaking news to many. Since then, Virgin has consolidated all of its 747s at Manchester Airport, pending a final retirement. Some had hoped Virgin had a trick up its sleeve for a special retirement flight, however, the latest video suggests there are no such plans.

Plane spotters at Manchester Airport likely got a pleasant surprise seeing Virgin’s Queen of the Skies flying one last time. Considering the lack of demand for four-engined aircraft, it seems the plane will be scrapped as other Virgin 747s have been.

Virgin’s 747, registered G-VGAL and nicknamed ‘Jersey Girl’, flew from Manchester to Ciudad Real Airport (CQM) yesterday. The airport is currently being used for cargo operations and as a storage facility for grounded aircraft. According to the airport’s website, the plane will be dismantled there.

Fleet retirement to continue

Virgin has reduced its fleet in the last few months to focus on twin-engine aircraft only. The airline has retired all of its A340s and 747s in pursuit of this goal.

Virgin primarily used its 747 on leisure routes to cities such as Orlando and Montego Bay, from its bases in Glasgow, Gatwick, and Manchester. Most of Virgin’s 747s flew their last passenger flights in March, before coronavirus restrictions took full effect. The airline operated a fleet of seven 747-400s.

Virgin A340
Virgin Atlantic has also retired its A340, in a bid to move to more efficient aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

However, seeing the lack of demand for non-essential travel and the airline’s struggling financial situation, it makes sense why Virgin decided to retire its 747s. The airline will replace these older planes with the new, more efficient 787s, A350s, and A330s.

The decision to retire four-engine aircraft has become the industry norm during the coronavirus, with the likes of KLM, Qantas, and Lufthansa all retiring some or all of their 747s. Airlines such as Air Frace have even begun phasing out the newer A380s due to their comparative inefficiency.

The end of an era

The videos of the Virgin 747 flying to their retirement is a representation of the changing times in aviation. While the 747 was set to leave the Virgin fleet next year, the coronavirus fast-forwarded this decision. However, the plane has played a significant role in the upstart airline’s history.

Virgin 787
Virgin will exclusively operate twin-engine aircraft. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin’s first-ever flight was on a 747-200 back in 1984. Since then, the airline has operated 30 747s of different types, as the plane became the workhorse of the fleet. As the airline retires the Queen of the Skies for more efficient aircraft, the plane will forever remain a part of history.

What do you think about the Virgin’s 747 retirements? Will you miss the Queen of the Skies? Let us know in the comments below.