Virgin Atlantic will have just one Boeing 747 left after tomorrow, as it continues a series of retirement flights. Earlier this year, the airline revealed that it would stop flying the type with immediate effect as a result of the current drop in passenger demand.
The current COVID-19 crisis has claimed many casualties. However, along with the lives lost, aircraft and businesses have also been lost. In terms of aircraft, widebody aircraft with four engines have been hit the hardest. Indeed, many Airbus A340s, A380s, and Boeing 747s have been forced to say goodbye before their time.
Penultimate Boeing 747 retirement
Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic shocked many when it revealed that the Boeing 747 would be retired sooner than expected. Since this announcement, the airline has been withdrawing its fleet one by one. The process is now almost complete, as the airline is left with just two jumbo jets to send skywards.
Before retirement, the entire Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 fleet was flown to Manchester Airport to await their fate. Today, the airport tweeted an alert that the penultimate Boeing 747 wearing the Virgin Atlantic livery will depart tomorrow.
Penultimate @VirginAtlantic Boeing 747 departure from Manchester Airport
G-VROS 'Forever Young' will depart at 12:00 tomorrow, Tuesday 8th September. Join us at the Runway Visitor Park where she'll be stopping in front of the park for a photo opportunity.
— Manchester Airport (@manairport) September 7, 2020
The aircraft leaving Manchester is registered as G-VROS and has been named “Forever Young” by the airline. At noon tomorrow, the aircraft will take to the skies on its final flight for Virgin Atlantic.
According to Planespotters.net, the aircraft is 19.6 years old. It took its first flight at the Boeing Factory in February 2001 before its delivery in March of that year.
This particular aircraft had initially been due to go to Italian carrier Alitalia. However, the order was not taken up. While other Virgin aircraft have been sent to the scrapyard, it seems as though the name “Forever Young” was apt for this aircraft. According to the data from Planespotters.net, the plane is set to get a second lease of life.
The aircraft will be delivered to Atlas Air. Atlas operates a mix of cargo and passenger Boeing 747s, including a former British Airways Boeing 747-8F. Virgin leased the aircraft from GECAS, and it seems as though Atlas will take over the lease.
No more British Boeing 747s
As a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the UK will lose all of its passenger 747 aircraft. Alongside Virgin Atlantic, flag carrier British Airways has also announced the retirement of its fleet of the Queen of the Skies.
British Airways has also slowly been sending its fleet off one by one. Tomorrow the airline’s fifth 747 will be retired, making a final flight from Cardiff to Cotswold Airport where it will be dismantled. British Airways said that the aircraft had operated 10,981 flights equating to 89,593 hours and around 40 million miles.
Which fleet of Boeing 747s will you miss the most? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!