For a long time the ‘4 engines 4 long-haul’ marketing slogan had promoted the operations of UK carrier Virgin Atlantic Airways as it operated a mixed fleet of Airbus A340s and Boeing 747-400s. Over the past couple of years as part of a fleet renewal and efficiency drive the marketing slogan has been binned as twin engine Airbus A330s and Boeing 787s have joined the fleet.
Although the four-engined jets still play an important role in the Virgin Atlantic network, this month will represent a milestone for the carrier as it retires the last of its A340-300s from scheduled operation, albeit it will still operate the larger A340-600 variant.
The UK carrier first launched operations with the type back in the late 1993, but after over twenty years of service the last A340-300 service is currently scheduled for March 29, 2015 on the Shanghai – London Heathrow sector. Virgin Atlantic had planned to utilise the type on its London Heathrow – Johannesburg route on a three times weekly basis from mid-July to late-October 2015, however this has been updated to a daily A340-600 operation.
The schedules below, from intelligence provider OAG, show the airline’s A340-300 flight offering during its first two months operations in late 1993, early 1994.
London Gatwick – Boston (eff 16DEC93)
VS011 LGW1500 – 1710BOS 340 D
VS012 BOS2020 – 0750+1LGW 340 D
London Gatwick – Orlando (eff 01JAN94)
VS025 LGW1045 – 1535MCO 340 D
VS015 LGW1230 – 1640MCO 340 D
VS026 MCO1725 – 0655+1LGW 340 D
VS016 MCO1910 – 0815+1LGW 340 D
London Heathrow – New York JFK (14JAN94 – 31JAN94)
VS009 LHR1835 – 2055JFK 340 157
VS010 JFK2255 – 1035+1LHR 340 157