Virgin Atlantic to phase out its last remaining Airbus A340-600s at the end of 2019 as it announces new order for 14 Airbus A330neos.
“Timelines are subject to change, but the plan is to retire our A340-600 fleet by the end of the year,” Virgin Atlantic’s spokesperson told AeroTime. Currently, the airline still has six operating A340-600s in its fleet, average age 13 years.
Besides the A340, the airline is also looking to replace its aging A330-300s. On July 17, 2019, the airline announced an order for 14 brand new A330-900neos, with options for six more.
“The acquisition of 14 A330neos will play a pivotal role in our fleet transformation and it is testament to our sustainability commitment; by 2024, we will have improved the fuel efficiency of our aircraft by 32 percent,” Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said at the time.
The airline currently operates 14 A330s: ten A330-300s and four A330-200s.
“A fundamental part of our strategy is collaboration with partners and our announcement today with Airbus and Rolls Royce, following the launch of our A350-1000 this summer, takes our partnership to the next level,” Weiss also said, referencing to Virgin Atlantic’s order of eight A350-1000 it has placed back in July 2016. At the time, besides the eight aircraft it is buying from Airbus, the airline also had plans to lease four A350XWBs from ALC, deliveries starting from 2020..
Airbus stopped the production of the four-engined A340 in November 2011.
“Airbus was developing the A330 and the A340 at roughly the same time. The A340 with four engines and the A330 with two engines.First flights in the early 1990s.By then it became obvious that the airlines really wanted long-range two-engine aircraft with the more modern larger and efficient and more reliable jet engines,” aerospace engineer Thomas Stagliano explained.
By the time, 131 A340-500/600s were made, of which 125 remain in operation (as of June 30, 2019, including Virgin Atlantic’s six). The largest operators of the type remain Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and Iberia (both have 17 A340 in their fleets).
This article was updated on July 30, 2019, to add Thomas Stagliano’s comment.