Which Airlines Still Operate The Airbus A340?

Between its first delivery in early 1993 and ceasing production in late 2011, Airbus produced 375 A340s for customers around the world. It was always an unusual design, a mid-sized wide-bodied aircraft with four engines. It was big, heavy, and thirsty. But Airbus does make a concerted effort to support the second-hand market in A340s, with servicing and parts still available. With this in mind, which airlines still fly the Airbus A340?

Striking a pose … An A340 coming into Paris in 2018. Photo: Ibex 73 via Wikimedia Commons.

As of May 2019, 226 A340s were still flying with a good spread around different airlines and into various parts of the world.

The A340 still common around Europe

Perhaps appropriate for an Airbus aircraft, the A340s are still pretty commonplace amongst legacy carriers in Europe

The airline with the biggest fleet of A340s is Lufthansa. It has 16 A 340-300s with an average age of 20 years and 17 A340-600s with an average age of 13.6 years. It does plan to retire them in the near future.

Iberia operates 17 A340-600s with an average age of 13.5 years. Scandinavian Airlines has 7 A340-300s. Swiss International has 5 A340-300s with an average age of 16 years. None of these three airlines has active retirement plans for their A340 aircraft.

An Iberia A340 approaching Boston. Photo: James Wang via Flickr.

The other notable European carriers with A340s include TAP Air Portugal, Air France and Virgin Atlantic. All plan to retire their A340s shortly.

The A340 outside Europe

Moving out of Europe, the A340s are spread amongst a wide variety of airlines, many of them quite small. A couple of exceptions to this rule are South African Airlines’ 16 A340s which include seven A340-300s and nine A340-600s.

Across in Argentina, Aerolineas Argentinas has a pair of A340-300s which they have retirement plans for. It’s a fairly lonely existence for those Argentine A340s. Their only sibling on the South American continent is a sole A340-300 belonging to Surinam Airlines flying out of Paramaribo.

From here, tracking down where the A340s still fly becomes a more quixotic exercise. Avior Airlines has a single A340 – handy if you need to get to Venezuela. Likewise, if Baku is beckoning, Azerbaijan Airlines has a pair of A340-500s. If a bungalow in Mauritius is more your thing, Air Mauritius still has four A340-300s. But they are moving to replace them.

An Aerolineas Argentinas A340 in Sydney. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr.

And if BA is boring you, KAM Air, the Kabul based Afghani airline has three A340-300s. Possibly what that airline lacks in inflight finesse they more than make up for in avgeek bragging rights.

In the same neighborhood, both Iran Aseman Airlines and Mahan Airlines fly the A340. In fact, Tehran based Mahan Airlines flies five A340-300s and seven A340-600s, making it one of the larger operators of the A340.

A340 owners are clustered in regions around the world

The A340 is still reasonably popular around the Middle East and into the region north of the Persian Gulf. What is interesting is that the A340 is very thin on the ground in North America, Asia, and Oceania. The airlines retaining the aircraft are very much concentrated in Europe, out as far east as Afghanistan, and around the Mediterranean and the Middle East – South Africa and Argentina being notable exceptions.

An A340 in old Air Mauritius colors circa 2002. Photo: Aero Icarus via Flickr

Having said that, tracing the home bases of some A340s is tricky. Twenty-one of them are used by Governments, businesses, and private individuals as executive jets. And Airbus doesn’t disclose who owns 48 of the A340s that are still flying.

Like all aircraft that are no longer produced, they live on, being traded on the second-hand market and used by airlines that have the skills and resources to keep older planes flying safely. Or airlines that cannot afford to buy new aircraft.

With the last A340 rolled out of the factory only eight years ago, the A340 will keep flying for a while yet.