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!