SAS Set To Retire Airbus A340 With The A350 As Its Replacement

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The Scandinavian airline SAS has confirmed that it will be retiring its A340 fleet in favour of A350 aircraft.

SAS will be retiring its A340 aircraft. Photo: Kentaro Iemoto via Flickr

Confirmation of the A340 retirement

On 12th October 2019, SAS confirmed in a tweet that it would be retiring its A340. The airline was asked by a user named TBCSidney on the social media site what the future held for SAS’s A340 aircraft.

At first, the airline commented that it would reply when it had more information. Within 15 minutes, the airline had the answer. It said:

SAS did not say when the retirement would be happening or whether new aircraft would be bought specifically to fill the gap. According to Air Fleets, the air carrier has seven active A340 in its fleet currently.

But perhaps the news of aircraft retirement was something that we were expecting.

SAS requires more modern aircraft

We know that SAS is conducting a fleet renewal as it moves towards a single manufacturer for its aircraft. It has eight A350 aircraft on order. The first is expected to be delivered by the end of the year and SAS is looking at a 28th January launch date. Phasing out the A340 for this purpose would make sense and therefore we can predict that those aircraft will be retired as the A350 come in.

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But there’s more evidence that the A340 retirement was imminent.

A340 retirement was imminent. Photo: Contri via Wikimedia Commons

In September, we reported that SAS had announced a large European expansion. In 2020, the airline is expected to operate services on 14 additional routes, five of which will be completely new.

And with a ramp-up on the number of routes SAS operates, the more aircraft the airline is likely to acquire. But for these new direct routes, the aircraft operating them are likely to require better engines, better fuel efficiency and longer range capacity. This is something the A350 definitely delivers on.

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The airline has yet to announce any news of the A340 retirement on its website. We contacted SAS for comment but a spokesperson was unavailable.

How is the airline’s fleet set to change?

It’s not only the A340 that will be retired. Photo: Masakatsu Ukon via Wikimedia Commons

SAS is conscious of its emission output as well as its competitiveness in the market. On its website, the airline says:

“SAS is continuing to invest to make travel easier for Scandinavia’s frequent travelers. A simplified and renewed fleet tailored to large and small traffic flows will strengthen SAS competitiveness.”

But there is more to its fleet renewal than that.

Despite retiring old Airbus models, SAS is still looking to become an Airbus-only carrier. It is replacing older aircraft with new, more efficient models as well as swapping Boeing aircraft for Airbus. In April 2018, the airline said that it would be making the step to operate a single type fleet. Its order of 50 A320neo will help it to achieve that. Its A320neo will replace the current Boeing 737 and A320 aircraft.

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