Where Does the Airbus A340-500 Fly? November 2013 Network Update

At the end of the summer schedules this past weekend Asian carrier Singapore Airlines (SIA) closed its non-stop services between Singapore and the US cities of Los Angeles and by the end of November its direct link to New York, served through Newark Liberty International Airport, will also close as it withdraws its ultra long-range Airbus A340-500s from commercial service.  The reason for the closure of two of the longest scheduled services in the world? No, not economics… No, not demand… but because the airline will no longer have an aircraft with the range to fly these ultra long-haul routes.

SIA has agreed to return its Airbus A340-500 fleet to the European manufacturer as part of a new $7.5 billion deal to acquire five more A380s and 20 additional A350s.  The airline agreed a similar buyback agreement for its older A340-300 variants as part of a previous new aircraft order with rival manufacturer Boeing.

SIA was one of only a few customers for the A340-500, which has proved to be a real niche aircraft to the world’s airlines.  Its deal with Airbus will ease pressure on the carrier disposing of these aircraft itself as there is only a very limited used marketplace for the type as our analysis below highlights.  It is understood that Airbus will place at least one of the aircraft with Aerolineas Argentinas and the others could also be destined for South America.

When the A340-500 entered service in 2003 it presented new opportunities for the world’s long-haul carriers thanks to its long-range.  At the time it offered the longest flight envelope of any widebodied commercial airliner and its four engines meant it was exempt from restrictive ETOPS legislation.  This meant that new non-stop city pairs that previously could not be flown were now possible thanks to the enormous range of the new airliner.

For SIA this granted a not to be missed opportunity to make moves into new markets.  However, many airlines were concerned over performance issues with the aircraft and three years later the arrival of the more-efficient and longer-range Boeing 777-200LR, effectively killed-off the A340-500 as a commercial airline programme.

SIA helped bring a raft of publicity for the A340-500 when it inaugurated operations with the type in early 2004.  The carrier specially branded its aircraft the ‘A345 Leadership’ and used them to introduce the world’s two longest non-stop flights from Singapore to Los Angeles in March 2004 and then from Singapore to Newark Liberty International in June 2004.

The airline continued to use its five A340-500s on these two routes up until this week.  However, in 2008 it reconfigured the aircraft in an all-Business Class cabin with 100 of its award-winning premium seats in a 1-2-1 forward facing layout.  Despite the route closures SIA continues to serve both Los Angeles and New York with one-stop services via Tokyo and Frankfurt, respectively.

The Singapore – New York flight at 8,285 nautical miles (15,344 km) remains the world’s longest commercial airline service by distance, while the Singapore – Los Angeles flight had held the milestone of being the longest flight by duration, an 18 hour 30 minute sector over the Pacific Ocean.

Alongside SIA, there are currently only three other commercial scheduled operators of the A340-500 - Arik Air from Nigeria and UAE hub carriers Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways.  Previous operators of the type have included Air Canada and Thai Airways International, while Azerbaijan Airlines and ACMI provider HiFly also now the use the type but on non-scheduled and third party work.

Every month The HUB will provide an update on the current A340-500 flight schedule and the routes the aircraft is being deployed upon.  This list for November 2013 was compiled from OAG Analyser on October 31, 2013 and changes to planned routes are likely.  In the table below we also feature the A340-500 network size of each operator and the top destinations served by the aircraft.  Our latest analysis shows that A340-500 capacity fell 7.7 per cent in November 2013 versus October 2013.

NOTE: Iberia also listed as operating the A340-500 but that is due to the use of the 345 code for some of its A340-600 fleet.


Arik Air (W3)
Lagos (LOS) – London (LHR)
Lagos (LOS) – New York (JFK)

{%alt%}
Arik Air

Emirates Airline (EK)
Dubai (DXB) – Athens (ATH)
Dubai (DXB) – Beirut (BEY)
Dubai (DXB) – Cape Town (CPT)
Dubai (DXB) – Entebbe (EBB)
Dubai (DXB) – Hyderabad (HYD)
Dubai (DXB) – Lyon (LYS)
Dubai (DXB) – Nairobi (NBO)
Dubai (DXB) – Riyadh (RUH)
Dubai (DXB) – Seychelles (SEZ)
Dubai (DXB) – Tunis (TUN)
Dubai (DXB) – Vienna (VIE)

{%alt%}
Emirates Airline

Etihad Airways (EY)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Bahrain (BAH)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Frankfurt (FRA)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Geneva (GVA)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Lahore (LHE)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – London (LHR)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Mumbai (BOM)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Riyadh (RUH)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Sao Paulo (GRU)
Abu Dhabi (AUH) – Seoul (ICN)

{%alt%}
Etihad Airways

Singapore Airlines (SQ)
Singapore (SIN) – Newark (EWR)

{%alt%}
Singapore Airlines

SCHEDULED AIRBUS A340-500 OPERATIONS BY AIRLINE (November 2013)

Rank

Airline

Seat Capacity

% Total A340-500 Capacity

Change vs Last Month

1

Emirates Airline (EK)

150,156

69.7 %

1.7 pp

2

Etihad Airways (EY)

42,000

19.5 %

(-0.7) pp

3

Arik Air (W3)

20,382

9.5 %

0.5 pp

4

Singapore Airlines (SQ)

3,000

1.4 %

(-1.3) pp

TOTAL

215,538

-

-

TOP 20: SCHEDULED AIRBUS A340-500 OPERATIONS BY AIRPORT (non-stop departures; November 2013)

Rank (Nov-13)

Change (Oct-13)

Destination

Available Seats

% Total Capacity

Change vs Oct-13

1

-

Dubai (DXB)

75,078

34.8 %

0.8 pp

2

-

Abu Dhabi (AUH)

20,880

9.7 %

(-0.5) pp

3

-

Seychelles (SEZ)

13,416

6.2 %

0.5 pp

4

-

Lagos (LOS)

10,191

4.7 %

0.2 pp

5

+5

Beirut (BEY)

9,288

4.3 %

1.0 pp

6

(-1)

London (LHR)

9,270

4.3 %

0.1 pp

7=

(-1)

Nairobi (NBO)

7,740

3.6 %

(-0.3) pp

7=

-

Tunis (TUN)

7,740

3.6 %

0.2 pp

7=

-

Entebbe (EBB)

7,740

3.6 %

0.2 pp

7=

-

Hyderabad (HYD)

7,740

3.6 %

0.2 pp

11

(-1)

Sao Paulo (GRU)

7,200

3.3 %

0.1 pp

12

+6

Vienna (VIE)

6,708

3.1 %

0.2 pp

13

+2

Seoul (ICN)

6,240

2.9 %

1.2 pp

14

(-1)

Lyon (LYS)

5,676

2.6 %

0.2 pp

15

(-1)

Cape Town (CPT)

4,902

2.3 %

0.4 pp

16

+1

New York (JFK)

3,081

1.4 %

-

17

NE

Athens (ATH)

2,838

1.3 %

1.3 pp

18=

+3

Frankfurt (FRA)

1,920

0.9 %

(-0.1) pp

18=

+8

Bahrain (BAH)

1,920

0.9 %

0.6 pp

20

+4

Riyadh (RUH)

1,530

0.7 %

0.3 pp

TOTAL

 

215,538

-

-


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