Finnair has been around, in one guise or another, since 1923. The Helsinki-based airline officially became known as Finnair in 1968. Over the following 53 years, it has variously operated 123 aircraft, including seven A340-300s. For 11 of those years, the largely unloved aircraft from Airbus graced the skies in Finnair’s blue and white colors.
Finnair ordered its first three A340-300s back in 2005, alongside some A350-900s. Those first A340s were slated to fly to Asia.
“This is the biggest fleet modernization in Finnair’s history. The decision reflects our confidence and commitment to our Asian growth strategy,” said Jukka Hienonen, then Finnair CEO.
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In total, Finnair took seven Airbus A340-300s
It was only 16 years ago, but when standards were very different then. In 2005, Finnair sang the praises of the A340-300. In a media statement, the airline said;
“The A340-300E features the latest flight deck equipment, provides increased passenger comfort and is equipped with CFM International CFM56-5C4/P engines, bringing lower fuel burn and emissions.”
At the time, Finnair had options to pick up four more A340s. The airline exercised that option in 2007, taking three more. According to aircraft database Planespotters.net, Finnair took seven A340-300s between 2006 and 2011. Six of them were new but the first, OH-LQA, came to Finnair via Virgin Atlantic. OH-LQA had flown for Virgin Atlantic for 12 years, registered as G-VFLY. As OH-LQA, the A340-300 flew for Finnair until it was retired from service in 2016 and went to Roswell, New Mexico, the following month.
The following year, Finnair took its first A340 direct from Airbus. That appears to be OH-LQB, which landed in Helsinki in May 2007. That plane was retired at Finnair in April 2016. Airbus eventually placed it with Air Belgium, where it continues to fly as OO-ABA. Just a month after OH-LQB arrived, OH-LQC touched down. It had a very similar life, flying for Finnair until 2018. It now flies for Air Belgium as OO-ABB.
The Finnair A340 was a bridge between the MD11 and the A350
Skip forward a year to 2008, and two more A340s landed. The first was OH-LQD in May. That plane also stayed at Finnair until 2016. After which, it eventually found its way to Air Belgium. It was a similar story for the fifth A340. OH-LQE went to Helsinki in July 2008 and stayed there until January 2017. Now, it is at Air Belgium, flying as OO-ABE.
It was then a fair wait until the two last A340s went to Finnair. OH-LQF went to Finnair at the end of 2010 and OH-LQG in February 2011. Both were ex-Air France A340s.
These last two arrivals were also the first to leave. OH-LQF went back to its lessor, Universal Asset Management at the end of 2015. It is now stored at Tupelo Regional Airport and registered as N6381S. OH-LQG also went back to Universal Asset Management at the same time. The plane also at Tupelo and currently registered as N537SK.
It was a relatively brief stay for the A340s at Finnair. In fairness, the aircraft was never going to be the airline’s never-never plane. The A340-300 was intended to serve as a bridge between the retirement of the MD11s and the introduction of the A350-900s (the first arrived in 2015). The A340 helped develop Finnair’s long-haul network, taking the airline into Asia and the oneworld hubs there.
The last Finnair flight was in January 2017. The last A340-300 was OH-LQE. It operated a scheduled service (AY74) from Narita to Helsinki on January 31.
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