Trent 1000 Issues Delay Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 Retirement

It appears as though the Airbus A340-600 is scheduled to stay with Virgin Atlantic even longer than previously planned. As the Boeing 787 Trent 1000 engine crisis continues, the aircraft are needed to ensure no drop in capacity.

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A340, Rolls Royce, Trent 1000
Virgin Atlantic’s Airbus A340s will remain in the skies a little longer. Photo: Public Domain

Unfortunately, carriers across the world have been affected by issues with the Boeing 787’s Trent 1000 engines. While Rolls Royce is taking the situation incredibly seriously, there still remain some aircraft that are grounded and awaiting replacement engines. As a result, Virgin Atlantic could be delaying its Airbus A340’s retirement with the aircraft now in schedules up until the end of July 2020.

Six-month reprieve

Virgin Atlantic had originally planned to have retired the Airbus A340-600 by the end of 2019. However, after the type’s retirement was repeatedly pushed back, it now seems that the aircraft will remain in service for much longer than planned. Six months longer to be exact.

According to Virgin Atlantic’s online booking engine, on the 1st of August 2020, VS412 from Lagos to London Heathrow is currently scheduled to be operated by an Airbus A340-600. However, from the 2nd of August, the flight will be operated by an Airbus A350-1000. Of course, depending on operational needs, this could still change in either direction.

Trent 1000 Issues Delay Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 Retirement
A Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787-9 powered by Rolls Royce Trent 1000 engines. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

“Flying longer than planned”

Simple Flying reached out to Virgin Atlantic to enquire about the delayed retirement. The airline told us that the aircraft will be staying around for longer due to 787 engine supply issues. The airline said:

“We’re always reviewing our fleet, and timelines around aircraft retirement are always subject to change in order to give us greater flexibility for our customers. Whilst no decisions have been made, due to ongoing supply issues with 787 Rolls Royce engines, our A340-600s may remain flying a little longer than planned.”

Single figure AOGs By Q2 2020

While a definitive number cannot be put on the number of aircraft on the ground due to Trent 1000 issues, it is within double digits. UK based airlines currently affected by the issues include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Norwegian. While Virgin Atlantic is keeping its Airbus A340s around, British Airways and Norwegian have been forced to wet-lease capacity.

Virgin Atlantic, Airbus A340, Rolls Royce, Trent 1000
Rolls Royce hopes to reduce AOG Boeing 787s to single digits in Q2 of 2020. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Addressing the number of aircraft grounded due to the Trent 1000 issues, a Rolls Royce representative told Simple Flying:

The company has expressed its deep regret regarding the level of disruption caused by durability issues with its Trent 1000 engine. We are urgently addressing these issues with a plan to reduce Trent 1000 AOGs to single figures in Q2 2020. Such in-service issues can sometimes develop with advanced engineering. Unexpected things happen on all engine systems when building new equipment with new technologies. In this case, some parts wore out faster than we forecast. Rolls-Royce remains fully committed to the Trent 1000 and believes the programme will be a long-term success.

Are you happy the A340 is staying around longer? Do you think it has passed its best before date? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!