Who Is Still Operating The A340?

As airlines move away from expensive to operate four-engine aircraft, we thought we would take a look and see which airlines will still be operating the Airbus A340 in 2020.

Airbus_A340-300_Air_France.wikimediajpg
The slender four-engine A340 debuted in 1993. Photo: Wikimedia

The list of companies who will still be flying the A340 does not include governments, leasing/finance companies or aircraft wet lease businesses. We’ve also excluded airlines that are retiring the A340 this year, such as Virgin Atlantic.

Once thought of as being Airbus’s most beautiful jet, the slender four-engine A340 debuted in 1993 and was, at the time, Airbus’s biggest aircraft. Assembled in Toulouse, France, the A340 could carry 375 passengers in its standard format and as many as 440 in the larger 600 series model.

Depending on the model, the A340 had a range of between 6,700 to 9,000 nautical miles making it ideal for long-haul operations.

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At one point the A340 was the longest range airliner

The A340-500 held the record for being the longest-range commercial airliner until losing its crown to the Boeing 777-200LR.

Air France A340
The A340 used to be the world’s longest range airliner. Photo: Wikipedia

Lufthansa and Air France were the first major airlines to sign up for the A340, with Lufthansa acquiring 62 of the jets. Today the German flag carrier still flies 15 A340-300s and 17 A340-600s. All of these will soon be replaced by the new A350 and Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

One interesting fact about the A340 is that out of all the 377 that were delivered to airlines during its 20-year production, there has not been a single fatality attributed to the aircraft.

A340 production ended when Airbus realized they could not compete with the 777

Production of the A340 ended in 2011 with Airbus knowing they could no longer compete against the twin-engine Boeing 777.

Lufthansa A340
The 777 killed the A340. Photo: Wikipedia

Before Boeing started developing its twin-engine wide-body jets, four-engine aircraft were needed for long-distance flights over oceans like the popular JFK-LHR route.

Technological advances by engine manufacturers and their ability to make more fuel-efficient engines allowed planes like the Boeing 757 to be able to fly non-stop from North America to Europe.

Then along came the 787 and not forgetting the A330 of which there is a new A330neo version. In case you were wondering what neo stands for, on Airbus aircraft, it simply means “new engine option.”

Now that we have determined that there is no longer a need for four-engine commercial airliners let’s assume all but one airline currently flying the A340 will replace and retire over the next couple of years.

This is added to all the remaining Boeing 747s and Airbus A380s that are still in commercial use around the world.

Mahan Air could be forced to fly the A340 for years to come

With Mahan Air being an Iranian Airline, it comes under sanctions re-imposed in November by the United States. The sanctions target critical sectors of Iran’s economy, such as the energy, shipping and shipbuilding, and financial sectors.

Unless these sanctions are lifted, which does not look likely given current political tensions, Mahan Air may be forced to keep flying the A340 indefinitely.

So let get down to the point of this article and list which airlines are still flying the Airbus A340 by the numbers.

Mahan Air Tehran

Mahan Air could be the only airline left flying the A340. Photo: Wikipedia

Topping the list is as we already mentioned is Lufthansa with 32 A340s.

Iberia comes in second with 17 A340s followed by South African Airways who have 16 A340s.

In fourth is Iran’s Mahan Air with 12 followed by Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) who have 7.

Swiss comes in at number six and unlike some of the other airlines plans to keep its A340 planes flying until 2025.

Seventh and eighth are Air Belgium with two A340s which are currently on wet-lease with British Airways and LOT Polish Airlines.

Other airlines that are expected to be still flying the A340 in 2020 are:

Air Madagascar 2

Avior Airlines 1

Azerbaijan Airlines 2

Edelweiss Air 4

Iran Aseman Airlines 1

Kam Air 3

Surinam Airways 1

Syrian Arab Airlines 1

Have you flown on an A340 recently? Are you planning to soon? Let us know in the comments!

30 comments
    1. You are right about the Air Mauritius A340s. I was not sure if they had been replaced already or not so omitted them from the list.
      Air Mauritius: “Later this year we will introduce new generation Airbus A350-900 aircraft to replace our existing A340-300E aircraft.”

  1. There is certainly still a need for the A340 and for other four engine jets. From an overseas passenger perspective I’d always prefer four engines instead of two when it come to trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific flights. It’s just the the airlines want fuel economy and fewer engines to maintain. Sure, one can shout ETOPs and say the planes are safe, but flying two hours or more on one engine out is less than ideal from standpoint of aviation redundancy.

    1. Remember the famous Charles Lindbergh quote when asked why he didn’t fly a twin in his famous overwater flight: “Twice as much to go wrong.” Indeed, if you look at twin v. 3- and 4- engine flights over Atlantic over past couple decades, twins had higher completion rate, and lower diversions. Also, if you are flying a tri- or quad – engine and have an engine out, you still have to divert, under most airline rules.

  2. According to the ODs Airbus commercial aircraft spreadsheet of July 2019 following a340’s are still in operation

    Governments; Executive and private Jets: 21

    AEROLINEAS ARGENTINAS : 2
    AIR ATLANTA ICELANDIC : 1
    AIR BELGIUM : 4
    AIR FRANCE : 5
    AIR MADAGASCAR : 1
    AIR MAURITIUS : 4
    AIR TAHITI NUI : 3
    AIR X CHARTER : 1
    AVIOR AIRLINES : 2
    AZERBAIJAN AIRLINES : 2
    BRUSSELS AIRLINES : 1 (Eurowings livery)
    CONVIASA : 1
    EDELWEISS AIR : 4
    EGYPTAIR : 3
    ETIHAD AIRWAYS : 2
    EUROPEAN SKYBUS : 9
    GLOBAL AIRWAYS : 2
    HI FLY : 3
    HI FLY MALTA : 6
    IBERIA : 17
    IRAN ASEMAN AIRLINE : 1
    KAM AIR : 3
    LUFTHANSA : 33
    MAHAN AIR : 12
    MALETH AERO : 2 (one of the 340-600’s was in BRU today Aug. 11th )
    MERAJ AIR : 1
    PLUS ULTRA : 4
    QATAR AIRWAYS : 1
    SANDS AVIATION, LLC : 1
    SCANDINAVIAN AIRLINES : 8
    SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS : 17
    SOUTH PACIFIC AIRLINES : 1
    SURINAM AIRWAYS : 1
    SWISS : 5
    SYRIANAIR : 1
    TAP AIR PORTUGAL : 4
    TURKISH AIRLINES : 4
    VIRGIN ATLANTIC : 6
    UNDISCLOSED : 53

    252 in total

    1. I’m not sure how acurate that is. I had a quick look at who’s got A340s in operation and according to other sources, Turkish and Etihad retired all theirs several years ago and Qatar retired theirs earlier this year. None of those 3 list the A340 on their fleet.

      I also read that Etihad sold 10 A340s to “European Aviation” in early 2018 after retiring all their A340s from service and from what I can gather, European Aviation is European Skybus. I would suspect there’s a few duplicates in that list and also the inclusion of some A340s that are retired from active revenue service but not yet scrapped.

      1. Thanks for that! I only included airlines that would be flying the A340 come next year. Most of the ones he listed will not be operating the A340 in 2020. Also the Eurowings A340 comes under Lufthansa. As for charter airlines like Hi Fly and European Skybus I deliberately omitted them.

    1. The TAP Portugal A340s will be retired this year. I did not include any airlines that were in the process of retiring A340s this year.

  3. Air Tahiti Nui, TAP, Edelweiss, Hi Fly, Plus Ultra, Aerolineas Argentinas, Air France, Air Madagascar, Air Mauritius, Virgin Atlantic, Estelar, Avior, Surinam Airways, Kam Air, Syrian Air, Azerbaijan Airlines, and Eurowings are all still operating a340s and weren’t included. Who’s writing these low effort garbage articles.

  4. I agree on the 737 knock. The 737 had an safety recor4e equal to the A320 until Boeing management once again fouled the nest.

    The airplane is fine, the Mgt culture of cutting into safety is not.

    Other than that its an interesting item to list.

    While I to don’t like two engine ETOPs, all the data says its as good as 4 enignes.

    Of all the problems over ocean close calls, its been 3-4 engines, not because of the engines but because of other issues. Usually its fuel, wrong tanks or bad fuel. One DC-10- or MD-11 had mechanuc put oil plugs back in wrong and two out of 3 engines went out.

    The one that is iffy is RR with its bad Trent engines (Norwegian just lost an engine over Rome) – those are proven bad and should be grounded until they can ensure they work right.

    The other one was the A320 with PW engine that they were letting it fly with one known good and one known bad. India put a Kabosh to that, basically it was you people are insane, when you take off you WILL have two good known engines.

  5. I believe 4 engines are still required to make the shortest direct flight (over the antarctic) from Australia to South Africa. It’s still only a B747 or A340 flight.

    VA did previously try a non stop B777 on the route but they had to take a much longer route towards Asia to keep it within etops requirements which added several hours flight time.

      1. Dear Mark, yes you mentioned “their two” (wet leased) but they have 4 in total 😉
        Anyway, thank you for your very interesting article(s)

        1. Hi Jean, You are correct they have four in total and have a new service to the French Caribbean starting in December.

  6. at Christian: I know, it is almost as if the website that made the article about the brand new Airbus 350 operating as BA flight 464/5 that was just pulled from service because of wind damage to its flaps disappear overnight has some some sort of agenda to push. Where is Nigel to take a big dump on the 737 Max? Will there be anymore “helpful” articles that tell me how to tell a B-737 from a A-320 so that I can refuse to board 737s and make a big stink on social media about doing so to create as much negative press for Boeing as possible (pub. July 27th)?

      1. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to be criticized, especially given the number of people who have lost their lives. Simple Flying goes WAY out of their way to mention the 737 Max in articles where it is completely irrelevant.

        1. Well, it’s such a big news item that it’s hard not to mention it on a daily basis…a bit like Brexit, or the US-China trade spat, or Iran, for example. It’s basically the biggest scandal in aviation history. And one can understand the need to rub it in from time to time, in view of the continued arrogance, indifference and incompetence at Boeing headquarters. Other news sites also have more-or-less daily items on the MAX; for example, today’s offering on FlightGlobal and Reuters, respectively:

          https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/air-lease-exchanges-15-737-orders-for-787s-amid-max-460230/

          https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ethiopia-airplane-faa/u-s-transportation-chief-asks-new-faa-head-to-review-agency-in-wake-of-737-max-crashes-idUSKCN1V21QP

  7. Back to topic. As lufthansa also plan to retire their A340 I schedules my next flight to New York on a Lufthansa A340. It is missing on the list o flown aircrafts, and I need to take the chance before it is too late.

  8. Well: I am booked on an AirFrance (old Joon) A340-300 in April 2020, CPT to CDG. Maybe AF are just providing their intent (drop the A340) but covering their as…s in case they don’t get sufficient replacement aircraft from the unreliable manufacturer. Personally if I had written the article I would have been more critical of who said what about retirement, particularity AF who have very old 777-200’s (high maintenance) to deal with as well as old A340’s. My last trip but one to CPT was MUC to CPT on the LH A340-300. A very good PaxEx compared to the 777-200 or even 787-8 in Economy. As another comment said SAA/QF may well need to keep four engine aircraft for years to come (longer than Mahan Air) to do SYD or MEL to JNB or CPT (longer than – there are no diversion airports out there in the southern Indian Ocean!

  9. I’ve flown on a SAS A340. It was in 2016, from Washington DC ( IAD ) to Copenhagen. The engines were extremely loud but the service was pretty good. I recommend flying on SAS but not on the A340. Firstly, it pollutes too much. Secondly, they are being phased out for good reasons. As the world turns to two engined aircraft, these aircraft like the A340, A380 or the Boeing 747 become harder to maintain and operate. That’s why I think the A340 should be quickly phased out!

  10. @pascalfuster, the CFM 56 engines on the A340-300 are similar to those you see on the A320 and B737NG. Why are you saying that they pollute too much? In general, airplanes do not pollute as much (per pax) as cars.

  11. I have flown on both A343 and A345 (SAS and Azerbaijan Airlines). It is a great plane. The cabin inside is the same as on A330 and the seat configuration 2-4-2 is the best you can get on 10+h flight…
    I always feel safer flying on 4-engines over the oceans. Of course there is always a bad chance to someting goes wrong, but having more engines available makes me feel safer.
    The thing I noticed was on my flights CPH-HKG-CPH both ways the plane flew at 29,000ft for the first 2-3h, then moved to 32,000 and at the last couple of hours we reached 38,000. Is this because of the too much fuel the plane need to fly that long?

    1. It was most probably trying to avoid headwinds at a higher altitude during the early stages of the flight. Saying that is could also have been a thrust-weight issue. I feel safer with four engines also, but it looks like twin-engine planes are the future.

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