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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!