Well, this is some news that I completely missed and it’s actually very saddening to see. The A340 is one of my favourite looking aircraft, and it’s one I sadly haven’t flown on much at all. Virgin Atlantic has been operating the A340 for several years, and they operated two variants, the -300 and the larger -600. It’s no secret these machines are enormous fuel guzzlers, and due to that, many carriers have been phasing them out of their fleets to make room for more efficient and economical aircraft like the 787’s or A350’s. Unfortunately for the A340 fleet, their time has come, and only a few days ago, the airline quietly operated its final flight.
On March 8th 2020, Virgin Atlantic’s G-VNAP took its final passenger service before being withdrawn from commercial service and placed in storage.
Virgin Atlantic Quietly Withdraw Their A340-600 Fleet
Not only was the A340-600 a workhorse for the carrier, but it was also an extraordinary plane for Virgin Atlantic. In August of 1997, it was announced that Virgin Atlantic would be the launch airline for the -600. The airline was already operating the smaller -300, so the addition of the larger aircraft was very happily welcomed.
The airline took delivery of 19 A340-600 models with the first official flight commencing in July of 2002.
As I mentioned above, the final flight took place on March 8th on a service from Lagos to London’s Heathrow airport operating as flight VS412.
Fun facts about Virgin Atlantic’s A340-600’s:
- The aircraft featured three cabins with 45 seats in business class (upper class), 38 seats in premium economy & 225 seats in the economy cabin
- Each of the aircraft had an interesting name such as Dancing Queen or Sleeping Beauty Rejuvenated
- Each aircraft is fitted with four Rolls Royce 500 engines which can produce 56,000lb of thrust
The aircraft was obviously a critical part to the airline for a long time, but as prices for fuel gets higher and airlines need to cut back on their emissions and overall operating costs. There’s only a small handful of airlines that continue to operate the aircraft (e.g. Lufthansa, Swiss, Air France) but most have already outlined plans for their retirement. There’s also quite a few A340’s that are used for private aircraft which is pretty cool.
It’s pretty sad to see these aircraft withdrawn from service and I’m disappointed in myself for not flying on one of them before it’s too late. I’ve only travelled on one A340, and that was Etihad quite a few years ago, Etihad retired their fleet quite some time ago.
Did you ever fly on a Virgin Atlantic A340-600?
Featured Image – Rory Delaney