What Happened To Virgin Atlantic’s Retired Airbus A340s?

Virgin Atlantic received its first Airbus A340 in November 1993. G-VBUS was delivered new from Airbus and was an A340-300 sporting four CFM 56 engines. Virgin named it, appropriately, Lady in Red.

Over the next 14 years, Virgin Atlantic would go on to receive a total of 29 A340s, 10 of the A340-300 and 19 of the A340-600. Currently, the airline has retired all but five of the fleet and has plans in place for the rest to exit before the end of the year. So where did these aircraft go when they were retired? Let’s find out!

EP-MMF
Doesn’t Miss Kitty look different? Photo: Papas Dos via Wikimedia

Scrapped and stored

Of the 24 aircraft that have already left Virgin’s fleet, six went to the big scrap heap in the sky direct from the carrier. Let us remember, for a moment, dear Soul Sister, African Queen, Molly, Varga Girl, Rainbow Lady and Miss Behavin.

Although some had lived a long-ish life, like First Lady/Rainbow Lady at 18.9 years and dear old Molly at 17.5 years, some were much younger when they met their sticky end. Miss Behavin was a mere 10.2 years into service when she arrived at the scrapper, and Soul Sister was just 9.9 years of age when she was broken up.

G-VWKD
G-VWKD (Miss Behavin) was just over 10 years old when she was scrapped. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia

Two further A340s are listed as being ‘stored’. G-VYOU, known as Emmeline Heaney, left the fleet in August this year, but has apparently been ordered by European Aviation Group so is likely to go back into service soon. G-VBUG, Lady Bird, left the fleet in February this year, but has also been bought, but a company called Unical Aviation, so should be safe from the scrap heap for now.

A fleet for Hi Fly

Portuguese wet leasing specialist Hi Fly is renowned for operating many A340 jets. As such, it should come as no big surprise that some of these Virgin quadjets ended up with the airline. G-VFOX (Silver Lady), G-VMEG (Mystic Lady), G-VSHY (Madame Butterfly) and G-VOGE (Cover Girl) all transferred to Hi Fly between 2014 and 2015.

Hi Fly A340
G-VSHY operating for Hi Fly. Photo: RAF-YYC via Wikimedia

Other operators to take aircraft from Virgin’s fleet include BWIA West Indies Airways, Al-Naser Airlines, Air Comet and Doric Aviation. A couple of holding/investment companies stepped in too.

So where are they now?

Sadly, a few of these rehomed A340s have also met their end. G-VEIL (Queen of the Skies) is now queen of the scrap heap, G-VSEA (Plane Sailing), an original Airbus testbed, is now nothing but parts. And G-VSKY (China Girl) and G-VEAL (Maiden Toulouse) are both no more despite having worked for other airlines.

Video of the day:

A couple are listed as stored, including G-VFIZ (Bubbles), owned by Doric Aviation. Finnair, who took G-VFLY (Dragon Lady), operated it as OH-LQA for 10 years, but it’s now in storage also. However, a surprising majority are still in operation, and all at the same airline too.

EP-MME
G-VGOA (Indian Princess) now EP-MME. Photo: Alec Wilson via Wikimedia

Iran’s Mahan Air ended up with an amazing eight of the original Virgin Atlantic A340s. These are:

  • G-VATL (Miss Kitty) now EP-MMF
  • G-VGOA (Indian Princess) now EP-MME
  • G-VAIR (Maiden Tokyo) now EP-MMD
  • G-VSSH (Sweet Dreamer) now EP-MMR
  • G-VOGE (Cover Girl) now EP-MMI
  • G-VFOX (Silver Lady) now EP-MMQ
  • G-VSHY (Madame Butterfly) now EP-MMG
  • G-VMEG (Mystic Maiden) now EP-MMH

The last two in the list are currently stored. However, as we’ve found out today, that doesn’t always mean much at Mahan Air.

The only unaccounted for A340 is G-VHOL (Jetstreamer). This aircraft arrived with Iran Aseman Airlines in January 2012, and is still in operation as EP-APA (Persian Gulf).

Are you surprised at the fate of these Virgin Atlantic A340s? Where do you think the rest of the fleet will end up? Let us know in the comments!

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Paul Spindler

I’m surprised the dropped the A340-600 in favour of keeping the 747-400.

TimC

Different market and different fits. The 747-400 operates the bucket-and-spade stuff with 455 seats; the A340-600 is for the business market with 308 seats. The A350-1000 will replace both, with two different fits.

Luke Mellor

Anyone remember Virgin Atlantic’s ‘safety’ jab at BA’s 777 fleet? I paraphrase – but something like ‘2 engines good – four engines better’ was splashed across their A340 fuselages

Oh the irony

TimC

That was many, many years ago, when ETOPS was restricted to 90 or 120 minutes, and thus 2-engined aircraft had a significant disadvantage for direct overwater routings. Also, at the time VS ordered the A346, there was no variant of the 777 available to order that matched the 346’s combination of capacity (especially freight) and range.

Enda

I was crew on the delivery of lady in red amazing memories of that day . Chris de burg sang lady in red and princess Dianna named the aircraft , we took her for a spin up and over wales where the wings were manufactured