On Wednesday 5 October, Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPL looked to have departed Australia for good, flying out of Melbourne (Tullamarine) for Apia (Tonga) as VOZ9901. It has since continued to Honolulu (Hawaii), Van Nuys (California) and Nashville (Tennessee) for post-lease maintenance.
VH-ZPL is now the sixth Virgin Australia E-190 that has been withdrawn from the fleet (for now) and be transferred to other operators or storage. VH-ZPD, VH-ZPF, VH-ZPE, VH-ZPG and VH-ZPJ have already left Australia.
VH-ZPL the first of three additional aircraft ordered new in 2007 by (at the time) Virgin Blue. It rolled off the production line and was delivered shortly after to the airline at Brisbane in November 2008, taking up the name 'Samba Blue'.
After re-painting into the new Virgin Australia livery, it then wore the name 'Clifton Beach'.
It's sad to see the E-190s disappearing - and as we have been reporting - Virgin Australia will eventually withdraw all remaining Embraer E-190 jets, as well as between four and six ATR 72 turboprops, on a cost-cutting program across all parts of the airline which will also include an unspecified number of job losses.
It was interesting to note that VH-ZPL's final visit to CQ appeared to be on Wednesday 28 September when it paid Mackay Airport a visit, operating as VOZ601/604 from and back to Brisbane.
File photo taken by Dave ©