SAS Prepares To Fly Its Final Airbus A340 To Retirement

Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) is preparing to fly its last remaining Airbus A34-300 to the American desert for retirement. The aircraft in question is named Astrid Viking and has the registration OY-KBM. It has been with SAS for 18.9 years.

SAS A340 Astrid Viking
SAS A340 Astrid Viking is being scrapped in Arizona. Photo: SAS

Once the pride of SAS’s fleet, the Scandinavian airline’s most elegant plane will depart Copenhagen Airport, Kastrup, on December 1, for the 11-hours 12-minute flight to Tuscon International Airport (TUS) in Arizona. Once there, it will be prepared for the short hop to its final resting place at Pinal Airpark in Pinal County, Arizona.

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Pinal Airpark used to be a WWII training base

Once a former World War two training base, Pinal Airpark is now home to around 300 jets grounded by the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic. Unlike many aircraft that will return to service once air passenger traffic picks up, SAS’s Airbus A340 will never take to the skies again. Instead of being SAS’s flagship aircraft, all its A340s will be broken up and sold as parts.

Airbus A340 cockpit
Astrid Viking is the last Airbus A340 to retire. Photo: SAS

Ever since twin-engined aircraft like the widebody Boeing 777 received an ETOPS rating, Airbus knew that the four-engine jet age was over. It stopped making its iconic A340s in 2011.

SAS will replace the A340 with the A350

Last October, SAS announced it would be overhauling its fleet and that the highly-efficient Airbus A350-900 would replace its nearly 19-year-old fleet of A340s. Lufthansa, Air France, and Iberia have already retired their A340s leaving just a handful of carriers still flying what was once the go-to jet for long-haul flights.

2020 has been a terrible year for the airline industry due to the COVID-19 virus and has seen many airlines bring forward the retirement of four-engined aircraft. The once ‘Queen of the Skies’ Boeing’s 747 is now nothing more than a cargo hauler, while airlines struggle to figure out if they can ever make the A380 pay.

The A380s days are numbered

Etihad sent its A380 fleet into storage early on in the pandemic and is now wondering if it should bring them back into service or call it a day. If it was not because it seems to have bottomless pockets, Emirates is the airline to feel sorry for as they have a fleet of 114 of the supersized four-engine planes.

SAS, Airbus A350 delivery
SAS will replace its A340s with Airbus A350 aircraft. Photo: Airbus

While it is hard to see these planes that we grew up with start to disappear from service, we have to realize that four-engine planes cost far more to operate than newer twin-engine planes with lightweight bodies and fuel-efficient engines.

If you have never flown on an A340 and would like to see what it is like, Swiss still have five in service and don’t plan on retiring them until 2025.

Have you ever flown on a SAS Airbus A340? If so, please tell us what it was like and if you are going to miss flying on them.