Swiss to retire all Airbus A340s in 2024-2025

The big four-engine jets are on the way out, and will be replaced by either the Airbus A350 or the Boeing 787.

By David Flynn, October 14 2021
Swiss to retire all Airbus A340s in 2024-2025

Swiss is set to rid its fleet of the Airbus A340, with the big four-engined jet facing a use-by date of 2024 or 2025 at the latest.

While Switzerland's flag carrier hasn't settled on a direct replacement for the A340, it's expected to tap into a group order placed by parent Lufthansa for both the Airbus A350-900 and Boeing 787-9, which would also be shared with sibling Austrian Airlines.

Speaking at an overnight CAPA Live online forum, Swiss CEO Dieter Vranckx said the A340s continued to earn their stripes due to both their globe-striding range and extensive cargo capacity, "and we know that during the last 12 to 18 months, cargo has played an important role in keeping up a large degree of our intercontinental network."

"But I would see the period somewhere between 24-25 (as) the period to get them out of the fleet."

Part of this timeline also comes down to the airline's plans to halve its CO2 footprint by 50% by 2030, as the fuel-thirsty A340s – which were regular visitors to airports across Asia and the USA – will make way for more efficient aircraft.

Swiss will continue to rely on its Boeing 777, which Vranckx described as "the largest one we have on the intercontinental side in our fleet, but it has proven an extremely efficient aircraft (with) really large cargo capacity."

In the years before Covid, Swiss upgraded its A340 first and business class cabins.
In the years before Covid, Swiss upgraded its A340 first and business class cabins.

However, Vranckx said the airline had no plans to use its single-aisle A321neo jets to replacement the larger twin-aisle jets on key routes such as the trans-Atlantic corridor.

"We continuously look at opportunities,  we evaluate market changes (and) also traffic flow changes. But for the moment we don't see a direct need for Swiss to go into narrow-body long- haul."

"Our model, which we had before corona and during corona, has shown that our balance of passenger revenues and cargo revenues is really crucial for a long-haul profitability," he added, saying that all Swiss A321neo aircraft would remain assigned to Swiss' European network.

And while business and corporate travel will continue to grow as the pandemic recedes into the rear-view mirror, Vranckx expected the recovery to be steady but slow.

 "It's going to take a while before the corporate travel will reach levels which we have seen before corona," he admitted.

Swiss says drops in corporate travel are usually accompanied by an upswing in premium leisure travel.
Swiss says drops in corporate travel are usually accompanied by an upswing in premium leisure travel.

"Traditionally Swiss has a healthy mix in the premium cabins of corporate travel but also private travel. And therefore, we have seen also in the past that when demand reduces on the corporate side that the leisure premium traffic is picking up and partly compensating that."

"We know in our business that (corporate travel) always comes back. The question rather is, when is it going to come back to a full return? It will be a recovery which takes a little bit longer than what we have seen in the past, especially if you have seen the 2008 financial crisis, the 2001."

"That was rather a V type of recovery, a steep decline, but then a rather quick recovery within six to 10 months. The expectation is that it will take longer in this recovery."

"It's very difficult to make predictions at this stage (but) pre-Covid levels for total traffic, that we're looking rather at '25, '26."

Also read: Your guide to Swiss’ all-new Boeing 777 premium economy class

United Airlines - Mileage Plus

12 Sep 2011

Total posts 338

Surprising since not that long ago they refitted new First Class and new business class to their A340s  Lets hope they get a nicer First  on the A350 or 789 The current First on 777 is claustrophobic when the doors are shut - it  appeals to a certain clientele - the old First on the A330 is great and airy - like Lufthansa's First and Qatar's First and privacy screens are adequate IMHO Personally Im not a real fan of the 777 because they are too noisy,  and the 789 feels better and sounds better on longhauls than the A350  

11 Jul 2018

Total posts 6

A350 blows 787/789 out of the water in all respects. 


03 May 2013

Total posts 668

You'd have to have the GenX engines on the 787 for it to be truly quiet. The plagued RR engines make it louder. Agree, the A350 is unrivaled.....only the A380 is better. The 787 is a length or two behind the A350.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

06 Mar 2015

Total posts 230

The poor old A340. Nice looking but very poor performance with heavy loads. Some of my Pilot colleagues use to say that on a Maximum weight take off the only reason the A340 gained altitude was because of the curvature of the earth.

As previous posters have said the A350 is one magnificent aeroplane to be a passenger in. There's no other aeroplane that comes anywhere near it  in just about every respect.

It's truly remarkable to travel in, I have done a few trips now and it was superb. The A380 is not too far behind it as far as passenger comfort goes  but for First Class Travellers the A380 reigns supreme. I did a trip on SQ A380 in " suites " and it was the most incredible flight I have ever done. 

Let's hope Swiss Air get the A350.

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