Iberia Set To Retire Entire Airbus A340-600 Fleet

**Update 17/6/2020 @ 15:22 UTC Iberia has confirmed the retirement of its Airbus A340s and that it is looking to delay deliveries saying, “That information is correct. It was included in an internal message we sent to our employees today.”**

According to alleged sources within Iberia, the Spanish national flag carrier is now planning to retire its Airbus A340 aircraft sooner than expected. The unnamed source says that all of Iberia’s 14 Airbus A340-600 aircraft will be withdrawn from service earlier than was planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iberia was the last European airline with A340s. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikipedia

In addition to the A340 retirement, novedadesaéreas says on Twitter that Iberia wants to delay the delivery of new aircraft. The shipments in question are for Airbus A350 and Airbus A320neo aircraft. Simple Flying has contacted Iberia’s owner IAG to see if they have any comments regarding this.

Iberia was planning to retire its A340s gradually

Before these so far unconfirmed rumors, Iberia had planned to reduce its fleet of Airbus A340-600s down to 10 aircraft this year, five by 2022, and then have none by 2025. After Virgin Atlantic retired its last three Airbus A340s in March and Lufthansa its remaining A340s in May, Iberia was one of only a handful of European airlines operating the Airbus A340.

Iberia is probably not alone in its desire to get rid of less-efficient four-engined aircraft as the coronavirus wreaks havoc with the airline industry. Even before the coronavirus crisis grounded airlines, many of the big players had embarked on a fleet renewal path. 

With twin-engined planes like the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350 able to reach all corners of the globe, why would any airline want to be flying gas guzzlers? The truth is none of them do.

And it’s not just four-engined aircraft for the chopping block but older twin-engined aircraft as well. American Airlines is looking to replace its aging Boeing 757-200s with Airbus A321s and use them on flagship routes between the east and west coasts. 

Airlines used 9/11 as an excuse to renew fleets

Using the COVID-19 as a catalyst to renew fleets is nothing new with a similar set of events following 9/11 after a huge downtown in people’s willingness to fly.

Lufthansa, Airbus A340, Teruel
Lufthansa’s last Airbus A340-600 was sent to Teruel, Spain, in May. Photo: Getty Images

Airlines, like many businesses, have long term business plans, and when a global emergency like the coronavirus pops up, all the planning goes out of the window. Before COVID-19 airlines were planning to replace planes from their fleets gradually, this has now been exacerbated as planes sit on the ground with nowhere to fly.

Many airlines will look to delay orders

This now adds a second problem into the equation: airlines ordered new planes from Boeing and Airbus while expecting business to increase. With the industry falling off a cliff, they no longer require the new aircraft and are looking to run their businesses with fewer planes and staff. Of course, this will have a knock-on effect with the aircraft manufacturers who are still busy building planes that nobody wants to buy.

Iberia A340
Iberia took delivery of its first A340 in June 2003Photo: Mark Harkin via Flickr

It comes as no surprise that Iberia wants to speed up the retirement of its Airbus A340s, and the talk of wanting to postpone orders is no surprise. In fact, in the coming months, we may here of many other airlines doing the very same thing with their aging planes and orders.

What do you think about Iberia’s plans? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.