TAP Air Portugal has begun phasing out the Airbus A340 from active service. The elimination of the aircraft from the TAP fleet has been anticipated for some time, as the Portuguese carrier looks to modernize its operations.
According to Airline Geeks, TAP Air Portugal has now commenced this process, as it continues to freshen up its long-haul strategy. Airbus A340s had previously played a major role in long distance flights operated by the company, particularly to destinations in the United States, Brazil, and former African colonies of Portugal.
But there are now more sophisticated, economical, and comfortable aircraft available, and TAP has therefore committed itself to replacing the Airbus A340 for some time. The fleet plan for the airline was put in place following the privatization of the company in 2015, and the new approach to long-haul flight at TAP will particularly be centered around A330-900neo aircraft.
The plan at TAP is to replace all of its existing A330 and A340 aircraft with A330neos, with 14 of these updated aircraft having already been delivered. TAP will receive five further jetliners in this series before the year is out, finally signaling the end of the A340 as part of its fleet.
Currently, A340 aircraft continue to cover routes connecting the TAP hub in Lisbon with the likes of Luanda in Angola, Maputo in Mozambique, and Recife and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Airline Geeks suggest that the final A340 flight for TAP could occur on October 27th, before the two remaining aircraft with the carrier are transported to Spain and dismantled.
Not only will the retirement of the A340 see the end of that line with TAP Air Portugal, but it will also signify the end, for now, of the carrier utilizing four-engine jets. Many airlines around the world have switched to the more efficient twin-engined aircraft in recent years, and TAP will also achieve this by phasing out the A340.
It was reported in August that TAP Air Portugal had decided to bring forward the date of retirement for eight A340 planes, with the aircraft having previously been scheduled to operate until December. TAP also retired its four remaining A330-300s in July, as it moves rapidly toward its new twin-engine strategy. Indeed, the Portuguese carrier has specialized in this area to a great extent and remains the only airline in the world to operate all of the new twin-engine options from Airbus.
Although the A340 is becoming significantly less common, there were still 226 in operation in May of this year. Lufthansa possessed the largest quantity of the aircraft, with 33 A340 jetliners still forming part of its fleet, and with no plans to retire themselves in the foreseeable future.