Where is Virgin Atlantic parking its planes during the coronavirus pandemic?
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The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating for the airline industry. During the first lockdown period, airlines around the world were forced to slash operating capacity as a result of the decrease in demand and strict government-imposed entry restrictions. Others completely suspended operations.
Then, the summer came along. Receding infection rates and countries lifting entry requirements allowed the industry to restart to some degree.
However, as of 5 November, England has entered its second national lockdown. At this time, all non-essential travel — both domestic and international — remains off the table. As a result, airlines are preparing for a long winter largely consisting of only necessary operations. Virgin Atlantic has announced that it’s reducing its flying schedule, though continuing to serve some destinations on a reduced schedule
Currently, Virgin Atlantic has 37 aircraft in its fleet split between Airbus A330, A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliners, according to Planespotters.net. While its fleet is considerably smaller than BA, given that all of its fleet are wide-body aircraft, they take up a considerable amount of space.
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Earlier in the pandemic, the airline announced that it was retiring its fleet of Boeing 747 and Airbus A340 aircraft. Both variants of aircraft have not operated a commercial flight for the airline in months, as some of the airline’s 747s await their fate.
So while a number of Virgin’s flights aren’t currently operating, where is it putting all of those wide-body planes? Turns out that most of them are being stored in Manchester (MAN). Let’s dive into it.
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A330s
Split between the A330-200 and A330-300 variants, Virgin has a total of 14 of these aircraft in its fleet. However, all of them remain grounded at this time.
According to our research, all four of its A330-200s are stored. Three of them (G-VLNM, G-VMIK and G-VWND) are already stored at Manchester (MAN). The fourth, G-VMNK, is currently parked in Dusseldorf (DUS) — the only A330 at the airport.
Between the A330-300s, three are stored at Manchester (MAN), three are stored at Doncaster Sheffield Airport (DSA) and four are currently parked at Ciudad Real Airport (CQM) in Spain.
In total, the 14 A330s are split between four different airports.
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350s
Since the pandemic started, Virgin Atlantic has taken delivery of one A350 aircraft — G-VRNB — in September 2020. The new aircraft brings the total number of A350s in Virgin’s fleet to six.
At this time, two of the airline’s A350 are parked. G-VDOT, has been parked at Manchester (MAN) since 9 September. Additionally, the newest A350 in the fleet has yet to take its first commercial flight. After having been delivered to the airline on 23 September, G-VRNB flew from Toulouse (TLS) to Manchester (MAN), where it’s remained in storage.
The other four A350s in the fleet remain in service.
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787s
The last member of Virgin’s fleet is the one that’s been kept most active. In total, Virgin has 17 787-9 aircraft. Of such, just one appears to have been cut from operating commercial flights. G-VNEW hasn’t operated a commercial flight since 23 October when it flew from London (LHR) to Shanghai (PVG). At this time, it remains at PVG.
All 16 remaining 789s in the carrier’s fleet remain in service.
Like with all other carriers, it remains to be seen exactly how long these aircraft will have to be parked for. As Virgin continues to cope with the losses as a result of the coronavirus crisis, it’s likely that may be for a while.
Featured photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images.
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