Just Four Airlines Fly The Remaining Passenger Airbus A310s

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Only four airlines now use the A310 for passenger service, with just 10 aircraft left. Like many older aircraft, the A310 – famed for its low capacity and long-range – mainly became popular with niche or otherwise smaller airlines. Mahan Air, Pakistan International, Air Transat, Yemenia, and Biman Bangladesh have all been vital for the type in the past decade.

Air Transat retired the A310 last year and was a major operator of the type.  Photo: Getty Images.

The first A310 departed on its maiden flight on April 3rd, 1982. A year later, Lufthansa and Swissair became the initial operators of the new aircraft and its original series: the -200.

Almost exactly 38 years later – on March 30th, 2020 – Air Transat flight TS765, by the A310-300, touched down in Toronto from Porto via Halifax. This marked the end of revenue-generating service for the world’s third-largest operator of the A310 in passenger configuration in the past decade. And it marked the end of the aircraft for Western airlines.

Iran’s Mahan Air has been a core user of the A310. The spike in 2018 was the result of Ariana Afghan resuming use of the type. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer

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Air Transat

Air Transat used 250-seat A310-300s for both their relatively low capacity – for widebodies – and their ability to operate multiple missions, including on longer and thinner routes. This was the hallmark of the A310.

In 2019, the year before retirement, the Canadian carrier used the A310 on some 67 routes, mainly to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Europe. Western Europe alone saw over six in ten A310 seats.

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At 3,998 miles, Toronto to Barcelona was its longest A310 route, although the A330 mainly served it. As such, it wasn’t one of its thickest A310 routes. That was Toronto to Dublin, narrowly ahead of Toronto to London Gatwick.

Air Transat’s A310 network in 2019. Montreal was the largest airport for the type. Image: OAG.

Niche airlines

Older aircraft almost inevitably end up with niche airlines or otherwise smaller operators, or those from less talked about countries. The A310 is no different. If 2011-2021 is added up, OAG data shows that the top-10 operators of the type have been:

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  1. Mahan Air: 16.3 million seats (still used)
  2. Pakistan International: 12.6 million (stopped using A310s in 2016)
  3. Air Transat: 12 million (2020)
  4. Yemenia: 4.9 million (2018)
  5. Biman Bangladesh: 4.7 million (2016)
  6. Azores Airlines and before that SATA: 3.5 million (2018)
  7. Kuwait Airways: 2.9 million (2015)
  8. Ariana Afghan Airlines: 2.6 million (continuing)
  9. Iran Air: 1.6 million (continuing)
  10. Uzbekistan Airways: 862,000 (2013)
Ariana Afghan is one of just four remaining users of passenger A310s. Photo: Getty Images.

Users in 2021

According to Airfleets, there are now just 10 passenger-configured A310s left in active service across four airlines:

  1. Mahan Air: with six
  2. Ariana Afghan: two
  3. Iran Air: one
  4. Iran Airtour: one

RadarBox.com shows that Ariana last used the A310 on April 23rd. YA-CAV, a 32-year-old veteran, operated Jeddah-Kabul-Kandahar-Kabul-Kandahar-Kabul. Iran Airtour, meanwhile, acquired the A310 in 2019. It last used its sole A310 from Istanbul back to Tehran Imam Khomeini, the capital’s international airport, as shown in the image below.

One of Iran Airtour’s most recent A310 flights was from Istanbul to Tehran. Image: RadarBox.com.

Almost all about Iranian airlines

In 2021, passenger use of the A310 is almost fully about Iranian airlines. This is mainly from the severe sanctions that impede any real development – including the replacement of aircraft – for airlines in Iran. Therefore, they continue to operate older and rarer aircraft – exciting to avgeeks! – and don’t really grow.

Tehran to Mashhad is the route that has seen the most A310 service for Mahan Air, followed by Tehran-Istanbul and Tehran-Dubai. Photo: Getty Images.

Perhaps not too surprisingly, the world’s top-10 airports for the A310 this decade are:

  1. Tehran Imam Khomeini
  2. Dubai International
  3. Tehran Mehrabad
  4. Karachi
  5. Islamabad
  6. Montreal
  7. Dhaka
  8. Kuwait
  9. Sana’a
  10. Lahore

What are your memories of the A310?

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