Inside SWISS’ Airbus A340 Operations

SWISS’ widebody fleet is comprised of the A340-300, A330-300, and B777-300ER. Its A340s have operated 113,000 flights in the past 17 years, almost exclusively from Zurich. We look at the most important destinations for the A340, and where the type is flying for the rest of this year.

This A340-300, HB-JMA, is active. It departed Zurich on June 15th to Johannesburg and will leave South Africa tonight, June 16th. Photo: Kambui via Wikimedia.

SWISS currently has five A340-300s, ch-aviation.com shows, of which four are active. The fifth aircraft is currently undergoing maintenance. SWISS’ leisure subsidiary, Edelweiss, has a further four A340-300s, all ex-SWISS, two of which are presently active.

SWISS’ five 343s have an average age of just under 18 years, and all were delivered new to the full-service carrier. It owns them itself, ch-aviation.com’s database indicates, and all have the same three-class configuration: 223 seats spread across 168 in economy, 47 in business, and eight in first.

Tokyo Narita has been SWISS’ leading A340 destination since 2004. Photo: Getty Images

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Over 113,000 A340 flights

If the period 2004-2021 is combined, SWISS has had over 113,000 flights operated by the A340, data from Cirium, the data company, shows. The type had nearly four in ten (36%) of SWISS’ widebody flights. Only the A330-300 has had more (38%), despite entering service much later.

Now, in 2021, SWISS has just 1,600 A340 flights planned, about half as many as the A330-300 and B777-300ER. Indeed, the decline of the quadjet is very clear to see, unhelped by higher fuel burn and maintenance. This was sped along by the transfer of aircraft to Edelweiss a few years ago – which still currently operate some flights for the parent.

While a retirement date of the 343 isn’t yet known, it is likely to be fairly close, especially as the wider Lufthansa Group increasingly focuses on smaller twins.

The decline of the A340 is clear to see. Still, it’ll be used to nine destinations from Zurich across the rest of this year. Source: Cirium

Where has the A340-300 been used most?

In the past 17 years, SWISS has used the 343 almost exclusively from its Zurich hub. (Just 39 scheduled services operated from Geneva – mainly to Zurich, but also to New York JFK.) Some 52 destinations have seen the 343 from Zurich, including a raft of one-offs (especially across Europe) and infrequent services. We recently looked at where Air France flew its A340s.

This year, SWISS has used its own A340s and also those of subsidiary Edelweiss on numerous services to Heathrow. The most recent, on June 14th, is shown here. They’re scheduled to operate until August. Image: RadarBox.com.

Top-15 destinations from Zurich

The carrier’s top-15 A340-300 destinations by flights in this 17-year period are as follows. There is perhaps little surprising here, although the 1,747-mile (!) service to Tel Aviv stands out. The A340 has served it for years, although it is now really all about the A330.

  1. Tokyo Narita
  2. Johannesburg
  3. Sao Paulo
  4. Hong Kong
  5. Bangkok
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Shanghai
  8. Tel Aviv
  9. Singapore
  10. Cairo
  11. San Francisco
  12. Boston
  13. Miami
  14. Chicago
  15. Santiago

More ‘exotic’ destinations have been served by the aircraft type, including Yaounde and Douala in Cameroon. The A340 last served them in 2010, before they were cut from SWISS’ network two years later.

Boston, where this photo was taken, was the A340’s 12th-largest destination from Zurich. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

The A340-300 this year

For the remainder of 2021, SWISS has planned the 343 to nine destinations, all non-stop to save on airport costs and fuel consumption. These nine, shown below, include Mumbai, with just one service round-trip bookable on October 30th/31st. London Heathrow, meanwhile, will continue to see both SWISS and Edelweiss machines until August, presumably partly driven by freight reasons.

The A340 will operate one round-trip from Zurich to Mumbai. Image: Google Flights.
  1. Johannesburg
  2. Chicago
  3. Miami
  4. Boston
  5. Shanghai
  6. Bangkok
  7. London Heathrow
  8. Dubai
  9. Mumbai

Will you be flying SWISS this year? Or have you flown its A340s? Let us know in the comments.



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