India’s former private carrier Jet Airways is mainly remembered for using the Boeing 777 and Airbus A330 aircraft for its international routes. However, for a brief period of time, the airline relied solely on three Airbus A340-300 aircraft for long-distance international flying. So, what happened to Jet’s only quadjet fleet? Let’s find out.
After flying domestically for over a decade, Jet Airways started international operations with flights to Colombo, Sri Lanka. The fairly short distance to the island nation just south of India meant that Jet could deploy the smaller Boeing 737 aircraft on the route. However, once it received permission to fly to London, it needed a bigger plane for the inter-continental flight.
By early 2005, news of Jet Airways engaging in negotiations with South African Airways to lease three of its A340 airplanes had started floating around. The three A340-300 aircraft were delivered new to South African, and it was not planning to use them any time soon. Almost immediately after they were delivered to SAA, the quadjets were leased to Jet Airways in 2005.
As per ch-aviation, the three A340s made a very quick transition from South African Airways to Jet Airways:
- ZS-SXD joined SAA on 28th February, 2005; became VT-JWA for Jet Airways on 23rd May, 2005
- ZS-SXE joined SAA on 4th March, 2005; became VT-JWB for Jet Airways on 31st May, 2005
- ZS-SXF joined SAA on 18th March, 2005; became VT-JWC for Jet Airways on 6th June, 2005
Replaced after two years of operations
Jet Airways immediately deployed the quadjets to London (LHR) and even considered expanding to other secondary destinations in the UK such as Manchester and Birmingham. However, the airline had more ambitious plans for international expansion and was not content with having just the A340s.
In 2005, the carrier placed two orders for widebody aircraft – one with Airbus for 10 A330-200s with the option of 10 more; the second was with Boeing for 10 777-300ERs.
In a way, the three A340s filled the gap for Jet until it received its twin-engine planes to further its destinations across Europe and eventually to the US and Canada. By the time Jet received its first A330 in 2007 – the first widebody it had owned – the A340s had more or less fulfilled their purpose and exited the airline almost as swiftly as they first arrived.
Back to SAA
After a two-year stint with Jet Airways, the three quadjets came back to their parent company within a month of each other:
- ZS-SXD joined SAA on 30th May, 2007
- ZS-SXE joined SAA on 26th June, 2007
- ZS-SXF joined SAA on 10th July, 2007
From 2007, the A340s served SAA for over 12 years, during which ZS-SXD was even painted in the colorful Team South Africa 2012 livery.
SAA has been through a lot in the last couple of years, from financial losses and bankruptcy to starting operations again after restructuring. The carrier has reinstated a few aircraft from its previous fleet, but the three A340-300s that once flew for Jet are now in storage at Johannesburg airport (JNB).
ZS-SXD went into storage in November 2019, while ZS-SXE and ZS-SXF went in March and June 2020, respectively.