Virgin Atlantic To Retire All Airbus A340’s By End Of 2019

Virgin Atlantic is set to end operations by the end of 2019. The British airline is due to receive four Airbus A350 aircraft by the end of the year, which will be replacing the carrier’s five Airbus A340 aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A340, Retirement
Virgin Atlantic is set to retire its Airbus A340s by the end of the year. Photo: Laurent ERRERA via Wikimedia

Globally, the Airbus 340 is slowly starting to fall out of favor with airlines. This is due in part to the rise in popularity of two-engined aircraft rather than four. Two engines are widely accepted as being more efficient, which is a huge attraction for airlines in today’s CO2 conscious climate where efficiency is everything.

First four A350s

Virgin Atlantic is set to receive its first four Airbus A350-1000s by the end of this year. These new aircraft will feature Virgin Atlantic’s brand new business class cabin and are part of the carrier’s fleet renewal plan.


Virgin Atlantic is due to almost completely renew its fleet. In fact, the carrier is looking to retire three types of aircraft, while receiving two new types. While the A340 and 747 are set to be retired, Virgin will also be replacing its Airbus A330 aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A340, Retirement
Virgin Atlantic is set to replace it’s Airbus A330s with A330neos. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The aircraft due to replace these aircraft come from two families, firstly there is Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A350 order, the first of which should be delivered in the next month or so. However, at the recent Paris Air Show, Virgin Atlantic’s CEO, Shai Weiss, also placed an order for Airbus A330 aircraft.

Two engines are better than four

You may notice that all of Virgin Atlantic’s outstanding orders are for two-engined aircraft. Why? Globally, the aviation industry is tending toward two engines. In years gone by, four engines were essential for extended operations over oceans. If one engine went, you still had three more.


However, thanks to ETOPS regulations, having four engines is now no longer essential. With this in mind, Airlines are leaning towards two engines. This is due to the fact that it is less fuel-efficient to run four engines than two.

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A340, Retirement
Before the Airbus A350 arrives, Virgin’s newest type is the Boeing 787. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Along with retiring it’s Airbus A340 aircraft by the end of 2019, Virgin Atlantic is also due to retire its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft. In fact, one known as ‘Cosmic Girl’ has already moved to a different Virgin company known as Virgin Orbit.

Back in April, Simple Flying attended the event where Virgin Atlantic revealed their Airbus A350 seat. At this event, Weiss hinted that they would be retiring the Boeing 747 in 2021, or two years time. With all of Virgin Atlantic’s fleet replacements, they will soon have a very young, fuel-efficient fleet.

What do you make of Virgin’s A340 retirement? Will you miss the aircraft? Let us know in the comments!


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John M

Flew a VA A340 recently. Old and tired, even though VA’s service was as fresh as ever. The fleet overhaul should help VA move up the list of best Trans-Atlantic carriers.

Leslie Hlatshwayo

Moving on with times is ok, but so sad to see the quads disapear one by one, especially the A340-600 and the queen of the skies the 747. I guess we just have to accept the inevitable

Will Cutts

I loved flying the Virgin Atlantic A340’s to Hong Kong & Tokyo in the 1990’s, a brilliant aircraft with great service from the crew. Sad to see the aircraft go but this is progress and I’m sure the new B787, A330’s & A350’s will be even better.


I will miss these aircraft! I’ve only been lucky enough to fly on the one!

T Bone

Slowly the international airlines are replacing large passenger seated aircraft (380/747, etc) with smaller passenger aircraft. Should make seat prices skyrocket which is good for the airlines, bad for the consumer.


The really bad thing is that you are having airlines fly A330s and 787s at capacities they used on 747s before. A British Airways 747 seat in the 90s and before would be considered premium economy today, with that much space and comfort.


Hoping to see the lufthansa group follow the same way…..


The A340 and A330 were designed in the pre ETOPS environment, with the A340 designed for extreme long range with no restrictions and the 330 for shorter ranges. They basically had the same fuselage and wing, with ability to mount 2 or 4 engines. It is interesting to note that the 340 sold much better initially and the 330 went a whole year without a single sale. The 340-600 was outselling 777 -300ER until ETOPS limits were raised to make 777 virtually unrestricted which immediately killed sales of 340 . But A330 went on to be a major success ,… Read more »