With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing airlines to retire the four-engine model, the Spain flag carrier, Iberia airline said goodbye to its last A340 last week thereby ending an almost 24 years of history with the type. The A340 has played a vital role in the Iberia fleet by connecting new long-haul destinations from Madrid.
The last Iberia A340-600 was registered EC-JLE and joined the fleet in September of 2005. The plane was named after Nobel prize-winning Spanish neurologist Santiago Ramón y Cajal. Iberia had a total of 14 A340-600 in the fleet, serving destinations from London to Santiago.
The first Iberia A340-300 joined the airline in 1996, replacing the aging 747-200 and expanding the airline’s fleet. The plane had already set records for the longest route in the world and allowed Iberia to expand to new destinations in South America and Asia. The A340-600 joined the fleet 2003, offering more passenger capacity.
The A340 is a significant part of Iberia’s fleet and was the airline’s only long-haul aircraft until just two years ago. The plane was the go-to for any long-haul or high capacity market for well over two decades. The entry of the A350 in 2018 did signal the end of the A340, but the timeline was set to be gradual.
A casualty of the times
Iberia’s A340 was by no means an old fleet of aircraft. While the oldest one was 17 years old, the youngest one was just over ten years old. Many aircraft stay far beyond 20 years and continue to operate with no issues. The exit of the fleet will have a substantial financial impact on Iberia too.