Sunday, April 30, 2017

Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPC Departs Australia For Good - Plus Announcement of Withdrawal of ATR 72-500 Turboprops

On Wednesday 26 April, Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPC looked to have departed Australia for good, flying out of Brisbane for Apia (Tonga) as VOZ9901.  It has since continued to Honolulu (Hawaii), Van Nuys (California) and Nashville (Tennessee) for post-lease maintenance.

File photo

VH-ZPC is now the eleventh Virgin Australia E-190 that has been withdrawn from the fleet (for now) and be transferred to other operators or storage.  It follows VH-ZPD, VH-ZPF, VH-ZPE, VH-ZPG, VH-ZPJ, VH-ZPL, VH-ZPB, VH-ZPA, VH-ZPM and VH-ZPI whch have all departed Australia since February 2016.

VH-ZPC was the third of eleven new aircraft ordered by Virgin Blue in 2006 and it was delivered to Brisbane in May 2008.  It was noted to be wearing the name 'Jilla-Blue'.

VH-ZPC at Mackay Airport in 2012  (File photo)

With the airline rebranded in 2011, VH-ZPC was repainted into Virgin Australia livery and was also renamed 'Cabarita Beach'.

VH-ZPC lands at Rockhampton Airport in 2014  (File photo)

Of interest, VH-ZPC was withdrawn from service in early March and the aircraft's final flight into Central Queensland was over the course of Wednesday 8 March and Thursday 9 March when it operated the VOZ617/600 late afternoon and early morning service to Mackay Airport from Brisbane and back.

Meanwhile, Australian Aviation magazine reported last week that Virgin Australia plans to consolidate its turboprop operations to routes within the ACT, New South Wales and Victoria as it prepares to reduce the number of ATRs in the fleet from 14 to six.  As a result, the airline will end ATR 72 turboprop operations in Queensland.

In the 'Traffic' column in the May edition of Australian Aviation magazine, it is reported that all six ATR 72-500s - VH-FVH, VH-FVI, VH-FVL, VH-FVM, VH-FVU and VH-FVX - along with two ATR 72-600s - will be withdrawn with the process reportedly starting in July.

Currently, Virgin Australia operates ATR 72s from Brisbane to Central Queensland destinations including Moranbah, Gladstone, Bundaberg and Rockhampton, as well as to Port Macquarie in New South Wales.

The downturn in the resources sector has led to a a drop in demand on a number of these Central Queensland regional routes.

The decision to reduce Virgin’s ATR fleet, as well as its Embraer E190 regional jet fleet, was first announced in June 2016.

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Photos taken by 'IAD'  ©

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