Virgin Atlantic’s last Boeing 747 aircraft has now left the airline’s new London Heathrow home. The aircraft is heading to Las Vegas as it becomes part of the Atlas Air fleet of aircraft. The departure follows that of British Airways’ final Boeing 747 three weeks ago.
It’s a bad time to be a Boeing 747, or any four-engined jet for that matter. The current situation has led to the retirement of many such giants of the sky due to their poor fuel efficiency. Thankfully, while many have been scrapped and turned into keyringscinemas or by new operators.
Today will have been a sad day for many at Virgin Atlantic. Like its rival British Airways, the airline announced the end of its Boeing 747 operations earlier this year. Now, the airline is Boeing 747less, after its final aircraft departed Heathrow earlier today.
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The aircraft departed from London’s Heathrow Airport at 12:42 this afternoon. It climbed over Ireland before starting its transatlantic crossing. At the time of writing, G-VROS was flying over Greenland at 39,000 feet. It is expected to arrive in Las Vegas at roughly 15:26.
G-VROS is 19.7 years old according to Planespotters.net, having first flown on February 22nd, 2001. The airframe, line number 1268, was ordered by Alitalia. However, the Italian airline never took it. As such, on March 22nd, 2001, it was delivered to Virgin Atlantic. According to the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, the aircraft had clocked 92050 flight hours as of March 3rd of this year. Its final passenger flight was from Los Angeles to London as VS608 on March 30th.
No more British Boeing 747s at Heathrow
The departure of G-VROS also means that London Heathrow Airport will now no longer see any British operated Boeing 747 passenger aircraft. On October 8th, British Airways sent its last two aircraft from Heathrow. G-CIVB sporting the airline’s retro Negus livery is being turned into an events venue in The Cotswolds. Meanwhile, G-CIVY was sent to St Athan to be scrapped.
Many airlines had already outlined Boeing 747 retirement plans before the current situation. Lufthansa is currently one of the leading airlines flying the type, although it would be incredibly unlikely to use the aircraft for such a short hop.
As such, while the Boeing 747 has been able to call Heathrow home for the past half a century, future passenger Boeing 747 operations to the airport are likely to be few and very far between. Thankfully, four-engined aircraft won’t disappear any time soon. Emirates is actively flying the A380 to Heathrow, while British Airways has plans to keep its Airbus A380s moving forwards.