Which Airline Operated The Most Airbus A340s?

The A340 has been far from the most popular aircraft. Over the 20 years it was in production,…

Which Airline Operated The Most Airbus A340s?

The A340 has been far from the most popular aircraft. Over the 20 years it was in production, only 377 aircraft have been delivered to airlines. European airlines have led the way, with both Lufthansa and Iberia operating sizeable fleets. It remains in service with Lufthansa and a few other European, Middle Eastern, and African airlines.

Lufthansa has taken delivery of an impressive 62 A340 aircraft. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

The Airbus A330 and A340

The A340 was AIrbus’ first quadjet. It followed on from Airbus’ success with the A300 and A310 and was launched in 1991. Airbus developed it to take on Boeing and the 747, which had launched much earlier but sold very well, with little competition.

When the project was being considered, airline preference for a high capacity twin-engine or four-engine aircraft was split. It was very early days for ETOPS regulations, and the increases this gave to twins. Four-engine was still very much the preference for longer flights (particularly in Asia and Europe). Airbus’ solution was to offer both, and the A330 and A340 were jointly developed to offer this. This saved cost in development and also offered airlines commonality in the flight deck.

A330 and A340
The A330 and A340 were developed alongside each other. Photo: Getty Images

Four A340 variants

The A340 entered service with Lufthansa in March 1993. The initial variants offered at launch were the A340-200 and the stretched A340-300. Only 28 of the smaller variant were ordered, with the slightly larger A340-300 proving much more popular, with 218 aircraft delivered.

Higher capacity and longer range variants were developed during the late 1990s. The A340-500 entered service in 2001 with Emirates. It offers a range of 9,000 nautical miles (16,670 kilometers) – the highest range of any aircraft until beaten by the A350ULR. And the highest capacity A340-600 entered service in 2002 with Virgin Atlantic.

The A340-600 went on to be the second most ordered variant, with 97 orders. The A340-500 played an important niche role but only had 32 orders.

Which Airline Operated The Most Airbus A340s?
The stretched A340-600 took capacity up to a maximum of 440 (320 to 370 is more typical). Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

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Top A340 operator – Lufthansa

Lufthansa was the launch customer for the A340, initially ordering it to replace its aging DC-10s on its New York services. It went on to be the type’s largest operator, ordering a total of 62 aircraft – including eight A340-200, 30 A340-300, and 24 A340-600 aircraft.

Lufthansa has been a significant Airbus widebody operator, with the A300, A310, A330, A340, A350, and A380 orders. Of course, it operated the Boeing 747 and now has orders for the 787 and 777X.

Along with many other A340s and larger jets, the fleet has suffered during the pandemic. By May 2020, the entire fleet had been grounded and sent to storage at Teruel graveyard. Some A340-300s have since returned to service, but the A340-600s will not. In June 2021, it put 12 of its A340-600s up for sale.

Lufthansa, Airbus A340, Return
Lufthansa has confirmed its A340-600s will not return to service. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

Followed by Iberia and Virgin Atlantic

In second place is fellow European airline Iberia – with 34 A340s in total. It was also an early adopter of the A340-300, taking its first aircraft in 1996. It added the A340-600 in 2003. These were intended to replace its aging Boeing 747-300 aircraft.

Iberia Airbus A340-600 EC-JCZ
Iberia retired its last A340 in August 2020. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Iberia confirmed the retirement of its entire A340 fleet in June 2020. Prior to the pandemic, it planned to phase out its remaining A340-600 aircraft up to 2025.

Virgin Atlantic also operated the A340-300 and A340-600, with 21 aircraft ordered in total. Including leased aircraft, it operated 29 aircraft. Virgin Atlantic confirmed the retirement of its last three aircraft in April 2020,

Virgin A340-600
Virgin Atlantic used to fly the Airbus A340-600 to Sydney via Hong Kong. Photo: Getty Images.

Singapore Airlines and the A340

Singapore Airlines comes in top outside Europe (and fourth overall) for A340 operators but has a slightly different story with the aircraft. It ordered the A340-300 after its previously ordered MD-11 aircraft did not offer the range required in testing. It later added the A340-500 to use on ultra-long-haul services to the US – until replaced by the A350-900ULR.

Which Airline Operated The Most Airbus A340s?
Singapore Airlines has replaced its A340-500s with the A350ULR. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

For a summary of all A340 orders, see the following table:

AirlineA340-200/300 ordersA340-500/600 ordersTotal orders
International Lease Finance Corporation161329
Virgin Atlantic71421
Singapore Airlines17522
Air France1414
Cathay Pacific 1111

A340s still in service

All of the top operators here have now retired their A340s, apart from Lufthansa. It still operates a fleet of A340-300s. According to data from ch-aviation.com, as of July 2021, it still has 17 aircraft, with 14 of them in active use. In February 2021, at least one aircraft received a new paint job – certainly an indication that the -300s are not going anywhere just yet.

Next up is the Iranian airline Mahan Air. It still has a fleet of 11 A340s (five A340-300s and six A340-600s). With sanctions making new aircraft purchases difficult, airlines in Iran hold on to older fleets for longer. Mahan Air also still operates the A300 and A310.

Mahan A340
The A340-600 still flies with Mahan Air. Photo: Papa Dos via Wikimedia

Amongst the other airlines still operating a few aircraft, we have:

  • Kam Air – the Afghanistan-based airline, operates five A340-300s (its only widebody aircraft).
  • Edelweiss Air – four A340-300s.
  • Air Belgium – three A340-300s.

The A340 was never the most popular or more ordered aircraft. Still, it has been well used by several airlines – especially Lufthansa. Feel free to share your thoughts on the aircraft or your experience flying on it in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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UK Cuts APD For Domestic Flights But Raises It For Ultra-Long-Haul

The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has revealed plans to reform how Air Passenger Duty (APD) is applied to…

UK Cuts APD For Domestic Flights But Raises It For Ultra-Long-Haul

The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has revealed plans to reform how Air Passenger Duty (APD) is applied to travelers on flights taking off from the country. Domestic flights will see a lower rate of APD applied. However, those on ultra-long-haul flights will suffer, with an increased rate applied.

The UK Government has announced a shakeup in air passenger duty. Photo: Heathrow Airport

Air Passenger Duty has been a hot topic when discussing aviation in the UK over the past year. It was one of the factors cited in the demise of Flybe and has attracted criticism from a range of other operators. Now, the UK government is taking steps to address the issue.

Changes coming into force

Presenting his budget to the House of Commons earlier today, Chancellor Rishi Sunak revealed that the UK would shake up its current APD regulations, according to Sky News. From April 2023, the changes will mean that domestic travelers will see their APD cut in half, something Sunak says will,

“Bring people together across the United Kingdom, and because they tend to have a greater proportion of domestic passengers, it is a boost to regional airports like Aberdeen, Belfast, Inverness, and Southhampton.”

This move will likely be welcomed by all domestic airlines, particularly those without significant international operations. APD was seen as a big part of the fall of Flybe. Passengers used to have a return flight APD exemption, but the UK was required to remove this in 2001.

UK Government, Air Passenger Duty, Ultra-Long-Haul
APD will be slashed in half for domestic flights. Photo: Getty Images

A trade-off for long-haul passengers

While the changes to APD are great news for domestic travelers, those who like to venture further afield will end up paying more APD when flying. Sunak revealed that the economy rate for flights over 5,500 miles (8,851 kilometers) will increase to £91 from April 2023. He didn’t reveal what the premium economy, business class, and first class rates would be.

The increased APD seems to be angled as a form of carbon emissions tax, with Sunak commenting,

“We’re also making changes to reduce carbon emissions from aviation. Most emissions come from international, rather than domestic aviation. We are introducing from April 2023 a new ultra-long-haul band in air passenger duty… less than 5% of passengers will pay more, but those who fly the furthest will pay the most.”

UK Government, Air Passenger Duty, Ultra-Long-Haul
Qantas will be one of the carriers affected by the increased ultra-long-haul rate. Photo: Getty Images

As Sunak mentioned, the change will only impact a handful of passengers. The majority of destinations served by carriers from the UK will fall within 5,500 miles. The primary destinations affected will include the likes of Singapore, Hong Kong, southeast China, South Africa, and the farther destinations in South America. Qantas will also face the increased tax on flights to Australia.

According to data from Cirium, only 19 routes further than 5,500 miles from their origin are planned to depart the UK in November. These are,

Bangkok - ThailandKuala Lumpur - MalaysiaSeoul Incheon - South Korea
Brunei - BruneiManila - PhilippinesShanghai - China
Buenos Aires - ArgentinaMauritius - MauritiusSingapore - Singapore
Cape Town - South AfricaMexico City - Mexico CityTaipei - Taiwan
Darwin - AustraliaOsaka - JapanTokyo Haneda - Japan
Hong Kong - Hong KongPhuket - Thailand
Johannesburg - South AfricaPuerto Vallarta - Mexico

Is it worth it?

While Sunak angled the change at reducing carbon emissions, one must wonder how much of an impact the charge will have. Passengers currently pay an APD of £82 on such flights in the economy cabin, rising to £84 in April 2022. An extra £7 doesn’t seem like it will make a huge impact. The increase is by 7.7%. Applying the same boost to the standard rate of £185 for premium economy and upwards, the fee is only around an extra £14.

While passengers will pay more, such low increases seem unlikely to put many passengers off. It also doesn’t seem that the government will spend the money on reducing emissions. At the Airlines for Europe AGM in 2020, Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary commented,

“The UK raises billions each year in APD, and not one pound has ever been spent on the environment. We have sent three or four separate questions to the treasury in the UK asking them to identify even one environmental project that APD has been spent on. They can’t even identify one.”

UK Government, Air Passenger Duty, Ultra-Long-Haul
Sunak suggests the increase will reduce emissions, but airline CEOs don’t support this view. Photo: Stansted Airport

While Willie Walsh, then CEO of British Airways owner IAG and now Director-General of IATA, added,

“IAG paid €967 million in air passenger duty in the UK last year, not a single cent of that money went to environmental research or environmental support. The idea that we add more taxes is just damaging to the industry because it is reducing our ability to invest in new technology, and our ability to invest in sustainable biofuels, and our ability to invest in research and development.”

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So, what is APD?

APD, or Air Passenger Duty, is a fee charged for every passenger on a plane weighing 5.7 tonnes or more and fueled by kerosene regardless of whether passengers have paid for the flight or not. There is a limited set of exceptions, such as passengers on pleasure flights arriving at the same airport within 60 minutes of departure.

There are two bands to the tax. Band A includes flights where the distance from London to the destination country’s capital city is 2,000 miles or less, primarily consisting of geographic Europe. Band B includes countries where the capital city is more than 2,000 miles.

Ryanair, Ghost Flights, COVID-19
Ryanair’s cheapest fares are less than what it pays on APD. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

There are three types of rates. The lowest class of travel where seats have a pitch of under 40 inches (1.016m) counts as the reduced rates. Higher classes of travel or the lowest class where the pitch is more than 40 inches attract the standard rate. Meanwhile, planes weighing 20 tonnes or more carrying fewer than 19 passengers use the higher rate.

For Band A destinations, the rates of APD currently sit at £13 (reduced), £26 (standard), and £78 (higher). For Band B destinations it is £82, £180, and £541 respectively. From April 2022, these will rise to £84, £185, and £554.

Unfair on regional carriers

By halving the rate for domestic flights, the UK government is effectively putting airlines on a level playing field. A flight operating from London to Edinburgh and back would attract a basic rate of £26, compared to £13 for a flight operating from London to Paris and back.

Of the £250 million paid in APD from domestic flights in the UK in previous years, Flying was responsible for £106. It had pleaded with the UK to cut APD by half, but it seems that the drop came too late. Burdened partly by the cost of APD, Flybe ceased operations in early March 2020.

What do you make of the UK Government’s planned APD reform? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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