What Became Of Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A340s?

Cathay Pacific, a oneworld founding member and the flag carrier of Hong Kong, presently operates a fleet dominated by widebody aircraft. It features twin-aisle designs from both sides of the industry-dominating Airbus-Boeing duopoly. Historically, the airline has also operated several other widebody designs, including European manufacturer Airbus’s four-engine A340 family. But what happened to the A340s that Cathay Pacific flew?

Cathay Pacific Airbus A340-600
Cathay Pacific’s largest A340s were the -600 variant. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia Commons

The A340-300

Cathay Pacific’s most common variant of Airbus’s quadjet was the A340-300. Data from ch-aviation.com shows that 18 of the airline’s 21 A340s were this model. The first of these joined the airline brand-new in December 1996 as VR-HXB. However, by the following September, it had been re-registered as B-HXB. This happened to several of its other A340s.

The deliveries continued steadily for the remainder of the 1990s and into the early 2000s. The last A340-300 to join Cathay Pacific was B-HXO, which arrived in December 2001. In terms of the aircraft’s departures from the fleet, these took place between September 2001 and April 2017. The first to leave was B-HMZ, with the last being B-HXJ.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A340-300
B-HXG’s livery paid tribute to Cathay Pacific’s oneworld membership. Photo: byeangel via Flickr

As far as the fates of these aircraft are concerned, eight were scrapped between 2015 and 2017 after leaving the airline. They had spent their entire careers there, spanning periods as long as 20 years. Those that flew for other carriers after Cathay Pacific saw service at the likes of Aerolíneas Argentinas, Air China, and SriLankan Airlines.

The A340-600

Visually speaking, the A340-600 stands out due to its stretched fuselage. However, this aircraft was less conspicuous at Cathay Pacific in terms of the number that the carrier operated. Just three examples of this variant graced its fleet between 2002 and 2008.

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Hainan Airlines Airbus A340-600
Hainan Airlines flew the three ex-Cathay Pacific A340-600s. Photo: N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons

2002 saw the first pair arrive, in November (B-HQB) and December (B-HQA) respectively. These aircraft were joined in June 2003 by B-HQC. In terms of their departures from the airline, all three left within a month of each other. B-HQA was the first to go, on September 15th, 2008, with B-HQB leaving exactly a month later, and B-HQC in between.

Cathay Pacific had received these aircraft brand-new, and they then flew for Hainan Airlines on lease from ILFC. However, all three were broken up in Goodyear, Arizona in 2015, aged between just 11.9 and 12.5 years old, after Aercap failed to find new operators for them.

Cathay Pacific’s long-haul fleet today

Although Cathay Pacific no longer operates the Airbus A340, its long-haul fleet today is still one of reasonable interest and diversity. In terms of Airbus designs, it still has 34 examples of the A330-300 on its books, although only nine are presently active.

Cathay Pacific A350
Today, Cathay Pacific operates both variants of the A350-1000. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

In more modern terms, the carrier is also a significant operator of the Airbus A350. 27 examples of the A350-900 presently serve Hong Kong’s flag carrier (of which 12 are active). The A350-1000 also has a presence, with 14 examples of which all but one are active.

When it comes to Boeing, the airline has a strong relationship with the 777 family. As well as 17 standard 777-300s (all inactive), Cathay Pacific also operates an impressive 49 777-300ERs. However, just seven of these aircraft are active at present. Its cargo division also features Boeing widebodies in the form of the 747-400ERF (six) and 747-8F (14).

Did you ever fly on one of Cathay Pacific’s Airbus A340s? If so, where did the quadjet take you? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!