AirAsia X is best known for its and medium- and long-haul flights across Asia and Australia. However, the airline once also flew to Europe and operated a pair of the quadjet Airbus A340-300s. So what happened to these A340s? Let’s find out.
AirAsia X was founded in 2007 as the long-haul arm of the popular budget carrier. The airline wanted to provide direct flights between Malaysia and Australia at a much lower price than legacy carriers. However, the airline quickly set its sights beyond the Asia-Pacific region and looked to become a fully long-haul airline.
To reach destinations further into Europe, AirAsia X required a longer-range aircraft than the A330. The airline picked the A340-300 for this mission, since this plane offered the required capacity and was readily available in the market.
The two A340s, registered 9M-XAB and 9M-XAC, joined the fleet in February and June 2009, respectively, according to ch-aviation. They were routinely deployed on routes to the UK, landing at London Heathrow, Stansted, and Manchester Airports. The planes also flew to Paris for a short while, increasing AirAsia’s X reach into the continent.
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However, after six years of service, the A340s were officially retired by AirAsia X. This was largely due to the unprofitability (and later cancellation) of the European routes and the low efficiency of the quad jets. While the carrier tried to wet lease the planes to several airlines (including Saudia and others), in the end, it opted to retire them.
AirAsia X’s first A340-300, 9M-XAB, exited the fleet in June 2015 and did not find a buyer. The aircraft was originally flown by Air Canada since 1999, before reaching the Malaysian carrier a decade later. However, the A340s were later sent to Lourdes, France, to be scrapped.
The second A340s, 9M-XAC, had a more interesting journey after its retirement in August 2015. The aircraft was sold to Lufthansa Technik, who were previously in charge of maintaining the plane. The A340 later went to lessor TrueAero in 2016, before being leased to Afghanistan-based Kam Air.
Kam Air has been flying the aircraft since 2017, although it has not been flown for over a year now, raising doubts about its future. The A340 is currently parked at Kabul Airport and still bears the Kam Air registration of YA-KMT.
After retiring its A340s, AirAsia X returned to a fleet of all Airbus A330-300s. This means the airline no longer serves the Middle East or Europe (except on seasonal and charter routes) and has refocused on the Asia-Pacific market. The pandemic has crippled the airline, which is undergoing restructuring as it finds itself deep in debt and unable to pay. For now, don’t expect to see any new aircraft joining the AirAsia X fleet, including the much-vaunted A330neo.