Virgin Flies UK’s Last Passenger 747 Out Of London Heathrow

Today, Virgin Atlantic Airways said goodbye to its last Boeing 747-400, G-VROY, as it departed London Heathrow for new owners Atlas Air. As British Airways also retired the 747-400 earlier this year, this marks the final Boeing 747 departure of a British aircraft from London Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic, Boeing 747, London Heathrow
Virgin Atlantic today says goodbye to its last Boeing 747. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFK Jets – Edited By: Archie Barber

2020 will go down in history as the worst that the aviation industry has faced to date. One of the year’s major themes has been the retirement of the world’s four-engined giants, including the Airbus A340, A380, and Boeing 747. The latter has seen a larger proportion of retirements due to its increasing age.

Final Boeing 747 departure

Later today, at around 13:00, G-VROY is set to depart from London Heathrow Airport. The aircraft had flown into the airport from Ciudad Real on November 12th. The aircraft returned for one final farewell that sold out in just minutes. The aircraft is the last from Virgin Atlantic to depart from the fleet, marking the end of a 36 year-long era for the British carrier. Indeed, Virgin Atlantic was founded with a Boeing 747-200, aptly named Maiden Voyager.

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Earlier this year, Virgin Atlantic decided that the Boeing 747 would be retired from passenger flights with immediate effect. The airline had already earmarked the type’s departure as it moves toward a cleaner twin-engine fleet.

Following its departure from London Heathrow, the aircraft will be flown to North America, joining two of its sisters at Atlas Air. Most Boeing 747s retired this year have been scrapped, making the three that went to Atlas Air a welcome change. Rival airline British Airways made sure also to mark the occasion on its Twitter feed.

Commenting on the final departure, Corneel Koster, Chief Customer and Operating Officer at Virgin Atlantic, said,

“The much-loved Boeing 747 has played an important role in Virgin Atlantic’s story. It carried our first passengers to New York 36 years ago on our inaugural flight and over the years has transported countless millions of holiday-makers and business travellers safely around the world. Whilst we’re sad to close this chapter, we are delighted to continue our transformation towards a cleaner, greener fleet.”

Heathrow’s final British Boeing 747

The departure marks the end of an era, not just for Virgin Atlantic, but also for London Heathrow. Alongside Virgin, British Airways also announced the retirement of its 747 fleets earlier this year. British Airways’ final 747 departure from London Heathrow took place on October 8th.

British Airways, Boeing 747, Departure
British Airways’ last 747s left London Heathrow back in October. Photo: British Airways

While it may not be the final Boeing 747 flight from London’s main airport, they will become rare from now on. Many major carriers have retired their 747s due to the current situation. There remains the option that some cargo 747s will operate to the airport. Additionally, while the A380 remains grounded, Korean Air could even look to send its 747-8s to the airport.

What’s your favorite memory of the Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.