While Lufthansa (LH) retired its entire fleet of Airbus A340-600s, its Airbus A340-300s have been enjoying a ‘second life’ during the pandemic. In the month of June the type will serve 10 out of 48 destinations enlisted in the German carrier’s long-haul network. Which means approximately 1 out of five, including the daily flagship service from Frankfurt (FRA) to New York (JFK) operated under the flight number LH 400. The other cities enjoying A340-300 service are Bogotà (BOG), Cancun (CUN), Cape Town (CPT), Punta Cana (PUJ), San Josè (SJO), Singapore (SIN), Tehran (IKA), Vancouver (YVR), Windhoek (WDH).
This is quite unexpected, considering that airlines around the world are getting rid of their four-engined aircraft or they have parked them in long-term storage. The pandemic acted as an accelerator of a process started a few years ago, when new, fuel-efficient twin-jets like the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 became available, offering extraordinary performances in point of range and passenger comfort at costs unimaginable a few years before. That was the start of the end of quad-jets, which started to be retired as the new types entered fleets around the world. Even the most recent products featuring four engines, like the Boeing 747-8 and the Airbus A380, enjoyed limited success or their programmes ended when the pandemic made size the most important factor shaping airlines’ fleets around the world.
Lufthansa itself retired or put into long-term storage its A380s and Boeing 747-400s, while keeping on the active list 10 out of 19 Boeing 747-8s. The A340-600s were also sacrificed and, as the pandemic and travel bans became a long-term perspective, the A350s and A330s have been deemed as the best fitting aircraft, in point of economics, size and cargo capacity, to serve the airline’s extensive long-haul operations. Though, the A340-300s are still performing strong throughout the network: with flights to 10 cities, the type follows the A330s (which fly to 22 cities) and precedes the A350-900s and the Boeing 747-8s (which both fly to 7 cities) in point of destinations served from Frankfurt during the month of June.
Fourteen out of a fleet of 17 are active, according to planespotters.net (as of May 22). The average age is 21.6 years, with the oldest aircraft being D-AIGL (delivered in May 1996) and the newest D-AIFF (delivered in December 2001). Some of them initially sported a First Class cabin (in a F8C48Y165 configuration), but today the top product onboard is Business Class, though a three-class service has been maintained through the introduction of a Premium Economy cabin a few years ago. As of May 2021, 13 aircraft feature 30 seats in Business, 28 in Premium Economy and 221 in Economy, with 4 aircraft in a higher density layout with 18 seats in Business, 19 in Premium Economy and 261 in Economy. Business Class seating is 2+2+2 (Lufthansa will introduce its new Business product with a 1+2+1 cross section on the incoming Boeing 787-9s), Premium Economy is 2+3+2 and Economy 2-4-2.
To know all the details about Lufthansa A340-300 fleet and onboard service, visit the airline’s page in The Guru Guide to world airlines.
(Photo header Wikimedia Commons / Clemens Vasters)