Unfortunately, it’s the end of the line for Qatar Airways’ Airbus A340-600. April 30th marked the carrier’s last ever commercial flight for the quad-engine aircraft, operating QR835 from Bangkok to Doha.
Qatar Airways A340
Qatar Airways ordered their four A340-600s at the 2004 Paris Air Show with options for a further six. The aircraft were originally configured in a three-class layout with lie-flat first class and angle-flat business class seats.
However since then, their fleet of four A340-600s has seen their interiors changed numerous times over the years. They initially offered first class, similar to the first class they have on their A380s. This was subsequently removed in favor of improving their business class seats, and reducing the number of premium seats on the aircraft.
Qatar Airways attitude to the A340-600 changed rapidly. When it received its first A340-600 on September 20th 2006, CEO Akbar Al Baker stated, “This is a wonderful aircraft that excels in comfort and efficiency and I am sure our customers will have a thoroughly enjoyable flying experience on our long-haul routes. We are flying the A340-600 on selected services between Dubai and Doha and onwards to London Heathrow and, in future, Paris, Osaka and the US east coast”.
However, by 2009 he expressed his disappointment with the A340-600s in comparison to the Boeing 777, stating, “if I could, I would throw them away. These planes are not efficient at all”.
Why is Qatar Airways retiring their A340-600s?
Qatar Airways currently operates numerous long-range twin-engine aircraft including the Airbus A350, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and Boeing 777 which are more efficient than the A340. Additionally, Qatar’s cabin products on the A340 are not up to modern standards as those on the more modern twin-jets.
Qatar Airways has one of the youngest fleets of aircraft in the world, with an average age of only six years. The A340s are currently some of the oldest aircraft in the fleet, clocking in at an average age of 12.6 years, more than double the average fleet age. The retirement of the A340 fleet will significantly decrease the average fleet age overall.
What will happen to Qatar’s A340s?
According to Airline Watch, the aircraft will be ferried from Doha to Twente to be dismantled by the Dutch aircraft disassembly company, AELS. Reusable parts of the aircraft such as engines and cockpit instruments will be removed and the rest will be recycled.
Qatar’s other 4-engine aircraft, the A380, is also scheduled to be retired in the future. Currently, the airline has slated the retirement of the A380 for 2024, and each aircraft will be retired when it reaches 10 years old. The A380 is scheduled to be replaced by the Boeing 777X, which will be easier to fill and make profitable than the A380.