What Happened To Emirates’ Airbus A340s?

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Emirates retired their last A340 in 2016. It was the end of an era for the quad jet, of which Emirates had once flown 18. But what happened to all those A340s, and where are they now?

A340-500 Emirates
Emirates once had 18 Airbus A340s. Photo: Wikimedia

Once upon a time, Emirates operated quite a mixed fleet. They had Boeing 727s and a 737, as well as A300s, A310s and a bunch of A340s. The Gulf carrier received its first A340-500 in 2013, the first of 10 to operate for the airline. They also leased eight A340-300s, using the quad jets for long haul routes from Dubai.

Their last A340, A6-ERE, finally retired in 2016, taking its last flight from Kabul to Dubai. Shortly after this, Emirates phased out its last Airbus A330 too, becoming the first airline in the world to operate only Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s.

The Emirates A340 fleet

Emirates flew a total of 18 A340s between 2003 and 2016. They operated a wide range of long haul routes, including from Dubai to Athens, Cape Town, Seychelles and Nairobi.

The first A340 to join Emirates’ fleet arrived in October 2003. A6-ERB was a shiny new A340-500, direct from Toulouse, powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 500s. Following this, a further three A340-500s joined the fleet by the end of 2003.

Emirates A340-500
Emirates owned 10 A340-500s. Photo: Wikimedia

From January 2004, the A340-300s began to arrive. Over the course of 2004, eight A340-300s and a further four A340-500s arrived at Emirates. The final two, A6-ERI and A6-ERJ, both Airbus A340-500s, arrived in August and September of 2005 respectively.

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This completed the fleet of 18 A340s that Emirates would operate. But where are they now?

Where are the A340s now?

Let’s begin at the beginning, with the 2003 A340-500s. These four aircraft were all withdrawn from service between November 2014 and March 2015. All four went back to Toulouse to become the property of Airbus Financial Services (AFS), where they have been stored ever since. All except one.

The last A340 to arrive at Emirates in 2003, registered A6-ERD, has been given a second chance of useful service. In November 2018, its registration was changed to 2-RLBC and in January this year, it was ferried to Johannesburg (JNB) to its new owner, Global Aviation Operations. Global is a South African lease company, who provide wet, damp and dry leasing to worldwide operators. However, 2-RLBC is yet to take a flight with its new owner and is currently stored at JNB airport.

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Emirates A340-300
All the A340-300s were leased to Emirates. Photo: Wikimedia

Moving on to the 12 A340s delivered in 2004, the eight A340-300s were all, in fact, leased to Emirates. Four were withdrawn from use in 2013, being returned to their lessor once the lease term was up. The other four stayed in service until 2016, when they were then withdrawn and eventually returned to their lessor.

As to where they are now, A340 fans will be pleased to hear that many have gone on to have a long and useful life post-Emirates. Of the ones that were retired first, two have found new life being operated by Portuguese wet lease specialist Hi Fly. These two have been operated on behalf a variety of operators, including Saudi Arabian Airlines, XL Airways France, Norwegian Air Shuttle and even the Royal Australian Air Force.

CS-TQZ
Ex-Emirates A340-300, now registered CS-TQZ, works for Hi Fly. Photo: Wikimedia

Sadly, two of the ex-Emirates A340-300s were scrapped; A6-ERS and A6-ERT are no more.

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Of the four that lasted until 2016, all four are now in the stables of Hi Fly too. There’s not much information on the activities of three of them, but it appears two are stored in Toulouse and one is ‘active’ but without a customer for now. However, the fourth which was A6-ERM for Emirates and is now 9H-JAI, is the A340-300 used by Estelar in Venezuela.

Estelar A340
Estelar’s A340 is an ex-Emirates plane. Photo: Spotting Photography Jose Rivas via Flickr

If you’ve been following closely, you’ll know that 9H-JAI is currently off for some maintenance work, which has meant the arrival of the Hi Fly A380 in Caracas.

The final few planes we need to locate are the four A340-500s that arrived in 2004 and the last two which were delivered in 2005. All of these aircraft were owned by Emirates.

Of the four that arrived in 2004, one has been scrapped. A6-ERF was withdrawn in May 2013, stored for a year and then broken up in 2014 at Ras Al Khaimah International Airport. Sad times. Two more have failed to become useful since leaving Emirates, with one stored by Emirates themselves at Teruel Airport in Spain, and the other now registered with Airbus Financial Services and stored in Toulouse.

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But it’s not all bad news, as one aircraft, A6-ERH, went on to be bought by Global Aviation in South Africa. The sale went through last April, and it was ferried to Johannesburg in October. Interestingly, just last month, this A340 was reregistered under a South African registration, ZS-GAU, suggesting that perhaps Global Aviation have a customer for it. We could see this A340-500 fly again!

Emirates Airbus A340-500
Could we see the Emirates A340-500s fly again? Photo: Wikimedia

The very last two A340-500s, both of which arrived with Emirates in 2005, were withdrawn from service in early 2015. One has been transferred to Airbus Financial Services and is stored at Teruel Airport. The other, however, has also ended up in South Africa with Global Aviation, having arrived in Johannesburg in June 2018.

In summary

Out of a modest fleet of 18 A340s, Emirates now have none. While many have been stored since leaving the fleet, and three have been scrapped, a number have hope of taking to the skies once more.

Hi Fly has a total of six ex-Emirates A340s, some of which are in regular useful service. South African Global Aviation has three in their fleet too. Hopefully, they’ll find a customer for these aging quad jets and give them a final chance to prove useful once more.

Do you miss Emirates’ A340s? Are you sad to hear some have been scrapped? Tell us in the comments!

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