Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Final Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPH Departs Australia - For Good?

On Wednesday 21 February, Virgin Australia Embraer E-190 VH-ZPH was noted departing Brisbane Airport for Apia (Tonga) as VOZ9901.  It is reported that it will continue to Honolulu (Hawaii), Van Nuys (California) and Nashville (Tennessee) in the coming days for post-lease maintenance.

It has also been reported (including by us!) that VH-ZPH may eventually ferry back from Nashville to the Philippines where it could possibly be prepared to return to Australia later this year and operate for JetGo Australia Airlines.  Former Virgin Australia E-190 VH-ZPT departed Australia for Darwin and Clark International Airport at Manilla in late January in preparation for some future delivery back to Australia for JetGo where it will launch the airlines planned International services between Brisbane and Karratha in Western Australia and onward to Singapore.

Meanwhile, VH-ZPH is the final Virgin Australia E-190 jet to be withdrawn from the fleet and be transferred to other operators or storage.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, VH-ZPI ,VH-ZPC, VH-ZPQ, VH-ZPK, VH-ZPR, VH-ZPN, VH-ZPO and VH-ZPT which have all departed Australia since February 2016.

As reported several times, Virgin Australia announced its decision to phase out the E-190 from service in June 2016 as part of plans to rationalise the airline group’s fleet to help cut costs. Other changes include the withdrawal for some of its ATR 72 turboprop fleet and the transition of low-cost carrier subsidiary Tigerair from an all-Airbus A320 operator to the Boeing B737.

VH-ZPH was the eighth of eleven new aircraft ordered by Virgin Blue in November 2006. It entered the Australian register in July 2008 and was delivered to the airline in August 2008.  VH-ZPH was noted wearing the name 'Hastings Highness' and was configured to seat 6 Business Class and 92 Economy Class passengers.

VH-ZPH operated its first revenue flight for Virgin Blue on Monday 25 August 2008 when it operated as DJ1231 from Brisbane to Rockhampton Airport.

With Virgin Blue being renamed and re-branded as Virgin Australia Airlines in May 2011, VH-ZPH returned from maintenance and re-painting in Alverca do Ribatejo, Portugal in April 2014.  It looked to take up the name 'Honeymoon Cove'.

As we posted on our Facebook page, VH-ZPH operated its final revenue service for Virgin Australia on Saturday 3 February when it operated as VOZ1102/1105 from Brisbane to Newcastle (Williamtown) Airport.  A 'hangar party' was then held during the afternoon following VH-ZPH's final touch down back at Brisbane.

Of interest, it appears that VH-ZPH's final flight into Central Queensland was on Sunday 28 January when it operated into Mackay Airport and back from Brisbane as VOZ607/610.

VH-ZPH departs Mackay Airport some time ago  (File photo)

Sincere thanks to Brisbane-based plane spotters Dylan H and Dom for allowing us to share their great photos from the historic final touch down by Virgin's final Embraer E-190 jet.

Photos taken by Dylan Hardie, Dom and 'AC'  ©

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