Aviationtag A330 G-VMNK D-ALPA Virgin LTU Air Berlin



Although the new arrival we are announcing today last bore the British registration G-VMNK of Virgin Atlantic, in Germany it is better known as D-ALPA. The Airbus A330-233 sporting MSN 403 joined German charter carrier LTU in May 2001, making its maiden flight on the route Düsseldorf-Toronto. LTU was re-founded in Frankfurt in October 1955 under the name “Lufttransport-Union”, after first being established by the Englishman Bernard G. Dromgoole as LTU (Lufttransport Union) in early 1955. People still often mistakenly have Curt Cohnle from Mühlheim pegged as the founder of LTU, however, although he was a partner from the very beginning. The maiden flight took place on 2 March 1956, from Frankfurt to Catania. The fleet at the time consisted of several Vickers 610 Viking planes. In the 1960s, LTU also started working as a tour operator, enabling it to significantly expand its fleet as well as its portfolio. After several years as a successful holiday airline, the fallout from 11 September 2001 left LTU reeling, leading to major rationalisation. Air Berlin announced the takeover of LTU in March 2007.

Air Berlin D-ALPA

Air Berlin, based in Berlin with bases at Berlin-Tegel and Düsseldorf airports, was a German airline that, interestingly enough, was founded in the US in 1979. It was not until after the reunification of Germany that Joachim Hunold and Kim Lundgren founded the German Air Berlin GmbH & Co Luftverkehrs KG on 16 April 1991 and took over Air Berlin Inc. At the end, Air Berlin was a wholly owned subsidiary of the listed company Air Berlin PLC, whose largest single shareholder was Etihad Airways. LTU’s narrow bodies were successively given Air Berlin livery, while the wide bodies were still operated under the name LTU. The D-ALPA was therefore repainted in the Air Berlin livery design in Abu Dhabi in 2009, after flying to Dubai in LTU livery for the last time the day before. But once Air Berlin also filed for insolvency on 15 August 2017, the A330 embarked on its last flight from San Francisco to Düsseldorf on 15 October 2017. Sporting the English registration G-VMNK, the plane was transferred from Frankfurt-Hahn to Manchester on 2 January 2018 where it was repainted in Virgin Atlantic Airways livery and given the name “Daydream Believer”.

Virgin A330 G-VMNK taking off

After chalking up some 90,000 flying hours and more than 13,000 take-offs, the Airbus A330 G-VMNK was then transferred to its old home base in Düsseldorf, where it was dismantled in the noise protection hangar in February and March 2022. That equates to almost 10.3 years in the air for this plane – at an age just shy of 21, almost half its life.

Teardown of D-ALPA in DUS

We are thrilled to be able to offer an Aviationtag series that boasts two legends of German aviation at once, LTU and Air Berlin - and the fantastic Virgin Atlantic livery as the icing on the cake. Watch the entire "Making of" Video in our YourTube channel here.

Aviationtag A330 G-VMNK D-ALPA Virgin LTU Air Berlin Red

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