Where Are Virgin Atlantic’s Grounded Aircraft Parked?

Virgin Atlantic has been deeply affected by the current crisis in the aviation industry. As a long-haul operator, travel bans have meant that many aircraft need to be grounded. However, how many aircraft have been grounded, and where are they being stored? Simple Flying analyzed the data.

Virgin Atlantic, Grounded Aircraft, Coronavirus
Virgin Atlantic has been forced to ground a number of aircraft due to travel bans and a fall in demand. Photo: Getty Images

12 aircraft operational

Simple Flying trawled through data from FlightRadar24.com in order to find out just how many of Virgin Atlantic’s aircraft were grounded. We decided to define a grounded aircraft as any which hasn’t flown today or yesterday. As a result, only 12 of the airline’s 45 strong fleet are still operational.

Virgin Atlantic, Grounded Aircraft, Coronavirus
Just under three-quarters of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet haven’t flown either today or yesterday. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

The airline has kept a range of different types of aircraft flying, however. In fact, even one of the airline’s new Airbus A350-1000 aircraft has faced an extended break from the skies. The 12 aircraft that remain flying are broken down as follows:

  • 1x Airbus A330-300;
  • 3x Airbus A350-1000;
  • 2x Boeing 747-400;
  • 6x Boeing 787-9.
Virgin Atlantic, Grounded Aircraft, Coronavirus
The percentage of grounded aircraft per type varies. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

This means that all of the airline’s A330-200 and A340-600 aircraft are grounded. In fact, the A340s were some of the first aircraft to be grounded when demand fell. The airline has been ramping up aircraft storage since the 14th of March. The graph below shows how many aircraft remain operational based on the date of their last flight. (It should be noted that two Boeing 787-9s have been grounded since long before the crisis. This is likely due to Trent 1000 issues.)

Virgin Atlantic, Grounded Aircraft, Coronavirus
The rate at which Virgin Atlantic has grounded aircraft. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

Where are the aircraft being stored?

Of course, storing aircraft isn’t an easy thing. In fact, earlier today we reported that some airports are already running out of space. Like British Airways, Virgin appears to have had some luck with space at Heathrow, where it has stored over half of its aircraft. The remaining aircraft are dotted around the UK including at some more obscure airports such as Bournemouth, Doncaster, and Prestwick.

Virgin Atlantic, Grounded Aircraft, Coronavirus
Heathrow has the majority of grounded aircraft. Graph: Simple Flying | Data: FlightRadar24.com

So far Virgin Atlantic has resisted outright suspending operations unlike some of its European neighbors. However, depending on how the situation develops, this could yet change. The United Kingdom has advised against all but essential travel. Additionally, the country is now under full lockdown as was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday.

Virgin Atlantic’s staff already agreed collectively to each take eight weeks of unpaid leave across the next six months in order to protect jobs. However, yesterday Virgin founder Richard Branson pledged a quarter of a billion dollars to help protect jobs across the Virgin Group.

Have you seen any parked Virgin Atlantic aircraft? Do you think more aircraft will be grounded in the coming days? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!