Sunday, March 1, 2015

CQ Plane Spotting Historic Spot - Farewell to the Red Virgin Blue Colours from Australian Skies

The end of an era last month with the familiar sight of the red Virgin Blue livery disappearing from Australia skies - but hopefully not for good.

VH-VUL arrives in Townsville for repainting  (Photo taken by Dave  ©)

The red colours of Virgin Blue have been in Australian skies since the airline was co-founded by British businessman and founder of parent Virgin Group, Richard Branson, and former Virgin Blue CEO Brett Godfrey. It was established in 2000 with two aircraft operating on a single route.  Virgin Blue's original Boeing B737-400 VH-VGA is pictured below preparing to depart Brisbane Airport in August 2000.

Robert Frola /

After Virgin Blue rebranded to Virgin Australia in May 2011, Townsville-based paintshop Flying Colours has played a significant role in the transformation of the airline from a low-cost-carrier to what it is today. From VH-VUC in December 2013 to VH-VUL in February 2015, the paintshop has removed the prominent Virgin Blue livery on 23 of the 56 aircraft that were repainted after the airline rebranding.

The last repainted aircraft to leave Flying Colours was Boeing 737-800 VH-VUL, which emerged from the hangar on Monday 9 February, re-named 'Ocean Grove Beach', and sporting the Virgin Australia name in silver-grey print on the side of an all-white fuselage.  VH-VUL was then ferried to Brisbane and, significantly for Central Queensland, VH-VUL returned to revenue service with Virgin Australia and immediately called into Mackay as VOZ605 on Tuesday 10 February.

The painting of the last red aircraft into the contemporary Virgin Australia livery signals the completion of the brand repositioning,” Virgin said in a statement.

The Virgin aircraft were painted with what is known as the “base coat, clear coat” process, which required fewer layers of paint and produced a result that was longer lasting and therefore helped reduce maintenance.  “All the logos, all the livery, all the safety placards actually goes on the white base coat and the last thing to be applied is the clear coat which gives everything underneath protection from the elements,” a Flying Colours spokesperson said.

The 11-day painting process for each aircraft required 1200 man hours, 18 painters and 260 litres of paint.

Virgin B737-700 VH-VBZ was also repainted this year  (File photo taken by Dave  ©)

Established in 1985, Flying Colours has also repainted civil and military aircraft for the likes of Airnorth, Qantas, Solomon Airlines, Cobham and the Australian Defence Force.

Sincere thanks Gash M for sharing these awesome images of the repainting of VH-VUL.

Photos taken by Gash Morgan  ©

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