For nearly a decade, Virgin Australia operated a fleet of Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. The planes jetted between Australia’s big east coast capital cities and Los Angeles. It wasn’t a big fleet with only five 777-300ER planes, but what the fleet lacked in numbers, they more than made up for in impact, providing passengers with some of the most comfortable flights across the Pacific.
Virgin Australia no longer has any Boeing 777-300ERs on its books
Those flights got grounded early last year during the onset of the travel downturn. As Simple Flying has reported, Virgin Australia subsequently went into voluntary administration, through a restructuring process, and found new owners.
One of the outcomes of that process was Virgin Australia’s divestment of its widebody planes, including the 777-300ERs. One of the 777s, VH-VOZ, was leased to Virgin Australia via Aviator Capital. With Virgin Australia in voluntary administration, it was a relatively simple process to return the plane to its owners. VH-VOZ left Virgin Australia last July. After going into storage at Brisbane Airport, VH-VOZ has spent the last six months at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport. However, on March 11, the plane flew to Singapore.
That leaves four Virgin Australia 777-300ERs. They were all owned by Virgin Australia, but a Virgin Australia spokesperson told Simple Flying today the four planes had been sold and were now former Virgin Australia aircraft, despite livery remaining unchanged. The spokesperson told Simple Flying there were quite a few former Virgin Australia aircraft scattered around the place with the Virgin Australia branding still intact, and that may remain the case until the aircraft start flying for a new airline.
Who owns the former Virgin Australia Boeing 777 planes?
Those four former Virgin Australia 777-300ERs are VH-VPD Avalon Beach, VH-VPE Noosa Heads Beach, VH-VPF Caves Beach, and VH-VPH St Kilda Beach.
These four 777-300ERs had a similar post-Virgin Australia trajectory to VH-VOZ. All ended up at Wellcamp Airport. VH-VPD, VH-VPF, and VH-VPH all did time at Brisbane Airport in the second half of 2020 before making the short flight to Toowoomba. VH-VPE headed straight up to Wellcamp from Sydney in late October. The aircraft were positioned into Wellcamp in the lead-up to Virgin Australia’s new owners formally taking the reins in mid-November.
Three of those 777-300ERs remain at Wellcamp Airport. Around a week ago, VH-VPF warmed up its engines and flew across to Brisbane before departing for Singapore on the same day. Simple Flying understands both VH-VPF and VH-VOZ went to Singapore for engine swaps.
So who now owns the four former Virgin Australia 777-300ERs? Two of them, VH-VPF and VH-VPE, are owned by the United States-based UMF Bank. The remaining two 777-300ERs are owned by a Brisbane-based holding company called VB Leaseco Pty Ltd.
A corporate entity located just down the road from Virgin Australia’s former HQ
VB Leaseco Pty Ltd was in the business of procuring aircraft or aircraft parts and acting as a corporate middleman for Virgin Australia. Unsurprisingly, with a Spring Hill address and a company name that either reminds you of a budget beer or a budget airline, VB Leaseco Pty Ltd was a discrete company within the Virgin Australia corporate structure, but part of the corporate structure nonetheless.
Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd, the listed parent company, owned Virgin Australia Holdings Pty Ltd, which owned a range of companies, including VB Leaseco Pty Ltd. We know this because Virgin Australia’s administrators provided that information to the Federal Court last year.
VB Leaseco was put into administration last year, along with its parent companies. But current Australian company searches show it wasn’t wound up and remains registered and the proud owners of two former Virgin Australia 777-300ERs.