LONDON – Virgin Atlantic’s (VS) ‘Barbarella’, also known as G-VROM was seen yesterday departing Las Vegas (LAS) for one last time to be stored.
Also known as ‘Oscar Mike’ (L.N. 1275/MSN 32339), it was delivered to VS in May 2001 having not been taken up by Italian carrier Alitalia (AZ).
Had Alitalia taken up the aircraft, it would have been registered as EI-CVJ. In November 2009, Aerosur (5L) leased the aircraft for a period of three years before going back to Virgin in March 2012.
An Eventful Ride
After its return back to VS in March 2012, the aircraft had quite the eventful eight years at the airline. Back in December 2014, Barbarella made the news for an emergency landing at London Gatwick when its right-outboard landing gear did not fully extend for landing. Less than four weeks later, the aircraft was repaired and placed back into service.
For this year, once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, VS announced plans to retire its Boeing 747-400 fleet, meaning that Barbarella was initially stored at Manchester (MAN) between March and August before heading to London Heathrow (LHR) and remained there until three days ago.
Seen in Las Vegas
The aircraft was seen in Las Vegas (LAS) on a stop-over on the way to its next home in Marana Pinal Airpark (MZJ) where it will be stored for the time being. According to data from Planespotters.net, the aircraft is not destined for the scrap yet, with G-VROM expected to be delivered to Atlas Air (5Y) in due course.
The aircraft will remain a passenger plane and will be used primarily for troop transport flights. Airways photographer Johann Heske captured the aircraft on its final departure in the famous VS livery, under the flight number of VIR840P.
it is also understood that two more Boeing 747 from the airline will fly this same route, as they are also destined for 5Y.
Not A Sad Ending Just Yet…
The name of Barbarella will live on for a few more years yet, just in a different color scheme and serving a different brand of clientele. With 5Y owning around 38 Boeing 747 with an average age of 19.4 years, the oldest being 30.3 years old, it remains likely that the airframe will remain alive and not be subjected to the scrap-heap.
But with many more of the VS fleet bound for 5Y one can hope that the airline keeps hold of the airframes for as long as possible, just so then enthusiasts can remain happy in knowing that they have seen the Queen of the Skies in the air.
Because before you know it, they will not be flying anymore.
Featured Image: G-VROM seen departing Las Vegas for the last time. Photo Credit: Johann Heske