On July 15, 2020, Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 embarked on a short, 30 minute hop from Manchester to St. Athan in Wales. The flight will be the last one for the airliner named Ladybird.
Having entered Virgin Atlantic fleet in June 1997, the Boeing 747-400 (G-VAST) made its final flight from storage in Manchester Airport (MAN) to St. Athan Airport (DGX) ‒ an aircraft dismantling location.
The crisis brought by coronavirus pandemics did not play out in favor for the 23-years-old airliner. G-VAST was withdrawn from use on March 24, 2020. First stored in London Gatwick, the aircraft was later transferred to Manchester Airport in May 2020.
Ladybird is the fourth Boeing 747 aircraft to exit Virgin Atlantic fleet. Since the beginning of June 2020, Jersey Girl (G-VGAL), Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge livery featuring-Falcon (G-VLIP) and Pretty Woman (G-VROY) have been transferred to Ciudad Real Central Airport (CQM) in Spain for parting out.
Virgin Atlantic announced plans to retire its whole Boeing 747 fleet in early May 2020. As of July 15, three more airliners remain stored in MAN: Ruby Tuesday (G-VXLG), Forever Young (G-VROS) and Barbarella (G-VROM), planespotters.net data indicates.
Besides the Jumbo jets, the UK-based carrier also plans to retire its four A330-200 aircraft in early 2022. “By 2022 the simplified, greener fleet will comprise of 36 twin engine aircraft reducing CO2/RTK emissions by an estimated further 10%,” explained the company back in May.