Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 Retirement Postponed Again

Virgin Atlantic has delayed the retirement of its A340 fleet once again, as ongoing issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines appear to continue to hamper capacity. Previously slated for last flights on December 8th, the aircraft is now appearing on schedules up until the 29th of December, 2019.

Virgin A340
The A340’s retirement has been postponed again. Photo: Alex Beltyukov via Wikimedia

A stay of execution for the A340

Virgin had originally earmarked the A340 to exit the fleet on the 26th of October this year. However, it began appearing on schedules beyond this date in mid-September. At the time, it turned out that the reason for delaying the exit of the A340 was due to issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines on the Boeing 787.

At the time, a Norwegian 787 had suffered an uncontained engine failure, an issue which saw Rolls Royce drop everything to lend support to the affected airline. As such, the return of the fixed 787 engines to Virgin Atlantic, who have a number of their 787s currently grounded, was pushed back.

Virgin A340 taking off
Virgin’s A340s will be with us a little longer. Photo: Adrian Pingstone via Wikimedia

Now it seems that they are still waiting for those engines to return, or at least some of them, as the airline is holding on to the A340 for a little while longer. The stay of execution for Virgin’s A340-600s was noted by Manchester Airport News and shared in a tweet yesterday.


According to the source, the A340 has been scheduled on services to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Airport on the 14th, 21st and 22nd December. The airport news noted that other routes could be added too.

How much longer will the A340 be with us?

According to Airlineroute, a good few weeks actually. It seems that the A340-600 has been scheduled into service until 29th December inclusive.

Virgin A340
Virgin was originally retiring the A340 at the end of October. Photo: Bill Larkins via Wikimedia

This final date is further supported by Toby’s Aviation, who confirmed the 29th as the exit date of the ionic quad jet.

However, Toby’s Aviation went a step further, in so much as it provided an explanation for why this has happened. According to their tweet, the reason Virgin is delaying the retirement of the type is due to ongoing issues with the Rolls Royce Trent 1000s that power its Dreamliners.

Simple Flying reached out to Virgin for official confirmation of this but is yet to receive a response.

Are you pleased to see these four-engined birds around for a bit longer? Will you try to fly on one of Virgin’s last A340 routes? Let us know in the comments.


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Paul Spindler

Why did Virgin chose to keep the 747-400 rather than the A340-600, surely the Airbus is a more efficient plane


Sorry, but the Boeing 747 is a much better product.


They will have 747 and A340 for a long time, RR is no where near dealing with the Trent 1000 issues. Norwegian blow up engine and the other engine was closer to the inspect (and now failure margin) – and it is superposed to be able to go a significant more series of cycles than the inspection point. Its been the most amazing engine debacle I have seen, only exceeded by the MAX and along the same lines. One thing after another keeps going wrong, they even came out with a new engine (Trent 1000 TEN) and that did not… Read more »


Engine problem has been going on much longer than the Max grounding . I flew SEA- LHR on a Virgin 787 in October 2017, my return flight in November was switched to an A340 because the RR engines were being “inspected” on Virgin’s dreamliners.

Nate Dogg

I’m sorry but you don’t really have any idea. There are less than 50 affected Dreamliners at the moment. When trying to maintain a production line run in order not to affect Boeing, churning out extra engines is not easy. Rolls HAVE a fix for the issue. It is expected to take until mid 2020 to have every engine fitted with the retrospective fix. You will find that P&W issues with their GTF started before RR’s T1000 and will still be occurring after Rolls have finished with the issue.


“You will find that P&W issues with their GTF started before RR’s T1000 and will still be occurring after Rolls have finished with the issue.”
You don’t know that. Silly speculation like that ruins your entire credibility.


Not necessarily. While grounding has been a severe blow to many airlines affected by the Trent issues, RR’s latest projection is that the number of grounded 787s will be in single figures by the end of March 2020 (admittedly delayed from the end of this year), and they at least do have a fix. P&W don’t – new problems are still arising (most recently in September, I believe, oil leaks leading to possible fires) and with airworthiness directives being issued on a monthly basis. Not only do the GTFs need modified turbine blades, they also need modified gearboxes. early removal… Read more »


The A340-600 has better fuel efficiency than the B747-400. Am glad the A340 is getting to stay on , to fly a bit longer than what had initially been planned for it. I like quad jet aircraft , in comparison to the ubiquitous twin jet planes. Also , for safety reasons , flying across the expanse of the Pacific , Indian oceans , and WHAT IF ? hypothetically , flying onboard a twin jet aeroplane , somewhere at 35000 ft over the Pacific . Loose both engines !! The same hypothetical scenario , on a quad jet aeroplane , 2… Read more »


All new planes have engine issues these days. Both Boeing and Airbus.