Eight years after production stopped, many airlines are retiring their Airbus A340 aircraft, including Emirates and soon Virgin Atlantic. Hong Kong based airline, Cathay Pacific, retired its A340s back in 2012, but what happened to its aircraft?
Spotlight on Cathay Pacific’s fleet
According to Planespotters, Cathay Pacific now operates 155 aircraft on its passenger airline and 241 in total across its subsidiaries and freighters. Its fleet currently consists of a mixture of Boeing 777s, Airbus A330s and Airbus A350s, but it no longer operates the A340.
Over its lifetime, Cathay Pacific has owned a total of 31 Airbus A340, according to Air Fleets. It mainly invested in the -300 series, although it also owned four of the -200 series and three of the -600 series. The airline has since sold on all of its aircraft but has kept 11 of the -300 series which are now stored.
Cathay Pacific’s A340 orders
Cathay Pacific received its first A340-200 in October 1994 and received its second almost exactly one month later in November of the same year. It then received two more -200 series aircraft in 1995.
The first of these -200 series aircraft flew from 1994 until 1996 and the rest were retired the following year in 1997. All of the aircraft were sold to Philippine Airlines who later sold all four aircraft to Aerolineas Argentina. Aerolineas Argentina flew all of the aircraft until 2014 but retired them from its active fleet. They are all now in storage.
Cathay Pacific started receiving the first of three Airbus A340-600s in 2002. It received two -600 series aircraft in that year and a further one in 2003. These aircraft enjoyed a short lifespan and were retired between the ages of five and seven. All the aircraft received the same fate; a transfer to Chinese Hainan Airlines, where they were then all scrapped in 2015.
The A340-300 series
Cathay Pacific also owned 24 -300 series aircraft, specifically the A340-313x, the first of which was acquired in June 1996. It continued to buy the -300 series until 2001 with many of the aircraft being bought from Air China or Singapore Airlines. The last active -300 series operated by Cathay Pacific was sold in 2012 and was registered as B-HXO. During its eight active years with Cathay Pacific, the aircraft was recorded to have flown the following routes:
- London Heathrow to Hong Kong
- Hong Kong to Vancouver, CA
- Tokyo to Hong Kong.
In 2009, B-HXO was stored with Cathay Pacific for three years when it was bought by Aerolineas Argentina in 2012. It flew with Aerolineas Argentina until March 2018 and was then stored with Unical Aviation.
Looking for cleaner aircraft
In 2015, Cathay Pacific announced that it had found an “end-of-life solution provider” for the other 11 Airbus A340-300s that it had stored between 2015 and 2017. AerFin was chosen to take the aircraft from Cathay Pacific whilst it worked to bring in newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft in the modernization of its fleet.
Fuel-efficiency is, in fact, rather important for Cathay Pacific as it strives for a more eco-friendly way of operating. Earlier this month, Simple Flying reported that the airline was also retiring its Boeing 777-200 in the interest of fuel-efficiency as well as cutting operational costs. In November of 2015, the airline unveiled the largest recycling project that it had ever undertaken which was the “environmentally responsible dismantling of Airbus A340 aircraft”. It was proud to announce that 90% of all aircraft weight was, at the time, being recycled and only 10% being sent to landfill.