A recent schedule filing by TAP Air Portugal shows the carrier retiring its fleet of Airbus A340-300s much sooner than expected. Previously scheduled to operate until December, the carrier will now operate the final flights of the type in late October 2019. TAP join Virgin Atlantic, Qatar, Philippine Airlines and others who have either ended A340 service or are planning to by the end of the year.
TAP has just four A340-300s in its fleet. All are 24 years old, having been delivered in late 1994 and early 1995. The last flight is scheduled to take place on October 26th.
TAP’s last A340 flights
According to Routes Online, the most recent route filing from TAP Air Portugal has outlined the final A340-300 flights. These are as follows:
- Lisbon – London Heathrow: Last flight 22nd October
- Lisbon – Luanda: Last flight 26th October
- Lisbon – Maputo: Last flight 25th October
- Lisbon – Recife: Last flight 25th October
- Lisbon – Rio de Janeiro: Last flight 22nd October
This filing puts the very last flight from Lisbon to Luanda on October 26th. Of course, airline plans can change, so there’s always a possibility that any of these flights could end up operating quite differently.
However, if they do indeed cease service with the A340 on the 26th October, this is a significant move forward of the final flights of the type. Originally, TAP had scheduled the A340 to operate through to December 2019.
Why has the date been brought forward?
Actually, the date has been pushed back quite significantly from the original TAP Air Portugal plan. Some time ago, the airline had scheduled the phase-out of the type by February this year, so the December date was a fair time longer than they had expected to be operating the aircraft.
The A340-300 is being replaced by the Airbus A330neo. Delays in deliveries of the new aircraft from Airbus had caused the original date to be moved to December. However, now that Airbus seems to be on top of its deliveries, TAP has pulled the retirement of the A340 back in favor of the more efficient A330neo.
TAP Air Portugal was the launch customer for the A330-900neo, receiving the very first of the type in November last year. Since then, the carrier has received a further 12 A330neos, and has six more on order from Airbus.
The initial route for the TAP A330neo was from Lisbon to Miami, and since then they have launched service to five further North American destinations including San Francisco, New York and Toronto. As well as this, the aircraft are operating to a number of Brazilian destinations, including Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Brasilia.
Bringing forward the retirement of the A340 shows a level of confidence in more deliveries arriving this year. While the longer haul routes will almost certainly see the A330neo deployed, shorter hops such as London are likely to be served by TAP’s growing fleet of A320neo family aircraft. Indeed, the A321LR, which they started receiving in April, is capable of flying to South American and the east coast of the US too.
Will you miss TAP’s A340s? Will you try to get on one of the final flights? Let us know in the comments.