MIAMI – Iberia (IB) plans on retiring all 14 of its Airbus A340-600 aircraft earlier than originally expected, again due to the fallout caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.

COVID-19 has indirectly sent countless aircraft to the boneyard for early retirement due to the plummeting travel demand. Unfortunately, the A340-600 flying with the Spanish flag carrier seem to be the next victims.

Additionally, IB is attempting to delay a portion of its current order with Airbus, sources say. This order contains a mixture of A350 and A320neo aircraft.

Iberia A320neo
PHOTO: Clement Alloing

A340 Becoming an Endangered Species

Iberia is currently the largest operator of the -600 variant of the iconic quad jet with 14 of the type, followed by Lufthansa (LH) with 10. LH also has imminent plans to retire its A340-600, which will leave just four commercial operators, all with just a few of the type.

The four remaining will be Mahan Air (W5) with seven, South African Airways (SA) with four, Plus Ultra Líneas Aeréas (PU) with two, and Azerbaijan Airlines (J2), also with two.

South African Airways A340-600

The end of the four-engine in sight

The trend of airlines sending their four-engined airframes to the boneyard was already picking up steam.

The operating costs were becoming hard to justify with all of the more modern and efficient aircraft hitting the market, and the drastic fall in passenger numbers due to the pandemic further enforced the idea that such large-sized planes were no longer needed.