Lufthansa Group airlines Lufthansa, Swiss, and Edelweiss Air are some of the last few remaining Airbus A340 operators in the world. Arguably, they are also the easiest options when it comes to flying on the type. While the former flies the type from Frankfurt and Munich, the latter two airlines operate out of Zurich.
In this article, I’ll zoom in on Swiss. Continue reading to find out what routes the Swiss A340 is expected to be seen on in 2023, how many of the type the airline still operates, what cabin configuration they are in, and what the airline’s A340 retirement plans are.
Swiss A340 Routes
In the past, Swiss Airbus A340s could be seen at many major airports around the world including the likes of Tokyo Narita and Los Angeles. Today, only a handful of routes are operated by the quad jet.
At one point or another in 2023, the Swiss A340s will operate flights between Zurich and:
- Chicago, United States
- Hong Kong
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Montreal, Canada
- Shanghai Pudong, China
The route that the Swiss A340 will appear on the most consistently is Zurich – Johannesburg. The A340 will operate Swiss’s sole daily rotation between the two cities – LX282/LX283 – every day throughout the year except for June. For the duration of June, the frequency of the flight itself will be reduced to six flights a week – every day except for Monday.
Chicago, the sole remaining US destination for the A340 will be operated by the type six times a week until March 29th. When not scheduled to be operated by the A340, flights LX8/LX9 are scheduled to be operated by Airbus A330 and Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. It’s worth noting that I am also seeing the A340 scheduled every other Wednesday roughly between August and October 2023.
Swiss’s other North American A340 destination – Montreal – will be operated by Airbus A340-300 aircraft between July 6 and October 28, 2023. In May and June, the flight will be operated four times a week; after that five times a week. Interestingly, during that period, the flight will be operated by Edelweiss Air under a Swiss flight number. Before and after that, the flight is scheduled to operate daily with Airbus A330.
As for the Asian destinations, Swiss will fly the A340 to Hong Kong six times a week – every day except for Wednesdays – between March 26 and October 29, 2023. The rest of the year, the flight is scheduled to be operated by the 777-300ER.
In Shanghai, the Swiss A340 will appear once a week in March 2023, every Friday. While after that the route will be flown more frequently, it is scheduled to be operated by the 777-300ER. That is until October 31 when the route will go daily and is scheduled to be operated by the A340 at least until the end of the year.
Swiss A340 Fleet
At the peak, Swiss operated a fleet of 15 Airbus A340s, all of the A340-300 variant. That said, only five of those remain active with the airline as of the time of writing this article:
- HB-JMA (MSN 538, delivered in 2003)
- HB-JMB (MSN 545, delivered in 2003)
- HB-JMC (MSN 546, delivered in 2003)
- HB-JMH (MSN 585, delivered in 2004)
- HB-JMI (MSN 598, delivered in 2004)
The remaining ten were either retired or passed on to Swiss’s sister company Edelweiss Air. For more details about that, read the retirement plans section further down in this article.
Swiss A340 Seat Configuration
Swiss is currently working on adding premium economy class to its A340s. So far, one aircraft – HB-JMB – has been retrofitted and is in a 215-seat configuration consisting of:
- 8 “open” first class seats in a 1-2-1 layout
- 42 staggered business class seats in an alternating 1-2-1/2-2-1 layout
- 21 premium economy class seats in a 2-3-2 layout
- 144 economy class seats in a 2-4-2 layout
The aircraft without premium economy class feature a total of 223 seats – they feature 47 business class seats and 168 economy class seats in addition to 8 first class seats.
It’s worth noting that the single business class seats on the right side of the aircraft are “throne” seats. I reviewed one of those on a 777-300ER flight here.
Swiss A340 Retirement Plans
As mentioned earlier, while Swiss only has five A340s in its fleet now, in the past, it used to have 15. Of the 10 that are not in its fleet anymore, six were retired by the airline and scrapped:
- HB-JMJ (MSN 150, delivered in 2007)
- HB-JMM (MSN 154, delivered in 2008)
- HB-JMK (MSN 169, delivered in 2007)
- HB-JML (MSN 263, delivered in 2007)
- HB-JMN (MSN 175, delivered in 2008)
- HB-JMO (MSN 179, delivered in 2008)
Even though the six retired airframes were delivered to Swiss later than the five currently active, they were, in fact, much older.
The currently active five airframes and the ones I will talk about further below were delivered brand new to Swiss between 2003 and 2004. On the other hand, the six retired airframes were manufactured in 1996 and 1997. Some of them were used by Austrian Airlines and others by Air Canada before joining Swiss’s fleet.
Another four airframes were passed on to Swiss’s sister company, Edelweiss Air, between 2016 and 2018:
- HB-JMD (MSN 556, delivered in 2003)
- HB-JME (MSN 559, delivered in 2003)
- HB-JMF (MSN 561, delivered in 2003)
- HB-JMG (MSN 562, delivered in 2003)
Later in 2023, Edelweiss Air is expected to receive one more of the currently active Swiss A340s.
As for the remaining four A340s, Swiss is expected to replace them with A350s. With those being scheduled for delivery starting in 2025, chances are at least some if not all four of the A340s will remain in the airline’s fleet until then. By that time, chances are they will be retired completely rather than passed on to Edelweiss Air but only time will tell.
With Swiss still having a handful of active A340s flying on major routes out of Zurich, the aircraft remains fairly easy to fly on. In 2023, it is expected to operate regularly to five destinations in North America, Asia, and Africa.
That said, the airline has already retired over half of the A340s it originally operated and has plans to retire the remaining ones over the coming few years. Some of the retired aircraft were scrapped while others were passed on to Swiss’s sister airline Edelweiss Air.