The First Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 Heads Off To The Scrapyard

Today sees the first of the recently retired Virgin Atlantic 747’s head off to the scrapyard.

G-VGAL left Manchester at just before 16:00, as VS844P, heading for Ciudad in Spain. In order to bring the crew back to the UK, G-VINE, an Airbus A330 positioned to the airport on 23rd May from London Heathrow.

Rapidly approaching its 20th birthday, it’s unlikely that G-VGAL will be returning to service. As this was one of the younger members of the Virgin Atlantic fleet, the remaining 6 aircraft will likely be heading the same way.

As the aircraft made its way out for departure at Manchester, it made a brief stop in front of the Runway Visitor Park so spotters could get one final look.

Initially opened as a passenger airport in 2009, Ciudad never really hit its stride. After serving a handful of destinations, the final commercial service left by the end of 2011.

By 2012, the airport had closed completely. In 2013, an episode of Top Gear featured the closed airport. Jeremy Clakson, Richard Hammond and James May explored the closed terminal before taking their super cars for a spin on the closed runway.

In 2019, the airport re-opened. However, this time around it didn’t serve passengers. It now serves as a maintenance base operated by Direct Aero Services. And more tellingly, a Spanish company, Jet Aero Services opened a dismantling facility at the end of 2019. This is most likely the reason for the Virgin Atlantic 747’s to be heading there.

The airline announced in April 2020 that as part of its restructuring plan, they would leave London Gatwick airport, immediately retire their Boeing 747 aircraft and defer their remaining Airbus A350 orders.

In March 2020, Virgin Atlantic retired their remaining Airbus A340’s. These aircraft avoided the scrapyard however, and are now flying for Maleth Aero.

Virgin Atlantic now have no four engined aircraft in its fleet for the first time in its history.

Apologies For The Radio Silence

I know I’m not updating this site as much as usual! I haven’t forgotten about it however. Other than a couple of airlines (Avianca and LATAM) entering chapter 11 bankruptcy, there hasn’t been an awful lot to report on. I think we can all agree that the travel and aviation industry is in somewhat of a hibernation period for the time being.

There are signs that things are picking up again however. With that, there will be more to write about – including being able to add to the trip report section of this site once more!

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