French Polynesian Quadjets: The Story Of Air Tahiti Nui’s Airbus A340s

French Polynesia’s remote location in the South Pacific Ocean means that long-haul aircraft are a must for its flag carrier, Air Tahiti Nui. While this airline has recently followed the industry trend of moving towards twin-engine aircraft, it previously operated six Airbus A340 quadjets. Let’s take a closer look at Air Tahiti Nui’s relationship with the type.

Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A340
Air Tahiti Nui’s A340s used to stop in Los Angeles. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

A single A340-200

According to data from ch-aviation.com, the six A340s that Air Tahiti Nui operated were split across two variants. This split was admittedly rather uneven, with just one aircraft belonging to the original A340-200 version. The airline received its only A340-200 in November 1998. It bore the registration F-OITN and the name Bora Bora.

The aircraft was just over five years old at the time of its acquisition by Air Tahiti, having initially joined Air France in October 1993. The French flag carrier fitted the quadjet with a two-class, 286-seat configuratiuon. This consisted of 250 economy seats, and a 36-seat business class cabin. After four-and-a-half years, it left for Air Bourbon in May 2003.

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Conviasa Airbus A340
Air Tahiti Nui’s only former A340-200 now flies for Conviasa. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr

After just under two years at Air Bourbon, F-OITN then joined Spanish carrier Air Europa in April 2005. It then had a brief period of ownership at Airbus Financial Services, before joining Conviasa in March 2007. Apart from a two-month lease to Iran Air, it has stayed at the Venezuelan flag carrier ever since, and remains active today, aged 28 years old.

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Five A340-300s

Air Tahiti’s remaining five A340s were examples of the larger A340-300 variant. These aircraft joined the carrier in the early to mid-2000s, and their arrivals spanned from December 2001 to June 2005. Four had a two-class, 296-seat configuration (32 business and 264 economy), while the fifth had a six-seat first class cabin (alongside 24 business and 264 economy).

Air Tahiti Nui Airbus A340
Most of Air Tahiti Nui’s A340-300s have been scrapped. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

The four two-class aircraft came to the airline brand new, with some examples having not been taken up by Air Lib and Sabena. Meanwhile, the three-class A340-300 had spent its first four months at Canada 3000 Airlines, having joined this carrier in September 2001.

Air Tahiti Nui’s A340-300s spent nearly two decades serving the carrier. However, their stories came to an end when the airline withdrew them in 2018 and 2019. One of the retirements was delayed, but its final A340-operated flight took place in September 2019.

Three of them have now been scrapped (two in Marana and one in Victorville), and the other two remain in storge. However, one stored example has fallen into the hands of KP Aviation, who will lease it as a ‘preighter‘ to Malta’s Airhub Airlines.

Air-Tahiti-Nui-Los-Angeles-Paris
Air Tahiti Nui began flying its 787s non-stop from Papeete to Paris when COVID restrictions prevented the airline from using its normal Los Angeles stopover. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Air Tahiti Nui’s Fleet Today

Today, data from ch-aviation shows that Air Tahiti Nui now operates a smaller fleet consisting of four Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners. These highly efficient twinjets have an average age of just 2.4 years old. According to SeatGuru, they have the following configuration:

  • 30 Poerava Business flatbeds in a 2-2-2 layout.
  • 32 Moana Premium recliners in a 2-3-2 layout.
  • 232 Moana Economy seats in a 3-3-3 layout.

Last year, Air Tahiti Nui used one of its Dreamliners to set a record for what was, at the time, the world’s longest-ever domestic flight. US travel restrictions forced the airline to fly directly from Papeete to Paris, covering the 15,715 km (8,200 NM) in 15 hours and 45 minutes.

Did you ever fly on one of Air Tahiti Nui’s Airbus A340s? Do you miss seeing them, or are you happy with the Boeing 787 as their replacement? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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