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The Obscure A340-200 and How to Fly On It

The Obscure A340-200 and How to Fly On It

BY HADI AHMAD December 30, 2023 0 COMMENTS

The Airbus A340 is arguably one of the most recognizable aircraft in the skies. Its triple-bogey landing gear and four engines give the aircraft family unique characteristics. However, the A340 was sadly an aircraft "at the wrong place, at the wrong time." 

 

The first A340s entered service at approximately the same time as more fuel-efficient, twin-jet widebody aircraft. As a result, only 380 A340s were built in total. Of the four variants, the original, the A340-200, remains the most elusive. Only 28 were made, and only two remain in semi-regular passenger service.

 

Rendering of an A340-200 with generic livery in the sky | Photo: Airbus

 

About the A340-200

 

Airbus initiated the A340 program in 1991. However, no aircraft would enter passenger service until two years later. May 1993 saw the A340-200 enter service with Lufthansa, while just a few months later, in October, the first A340-300 entered service with Air France.

 



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Airbus' A340-200 was designed to hold 261 passengers in a three-class configuration. It had a range of 7,500 nautical miles, equivalent to 8,600 miles or 13,800 kilometers. Airbus also offered a lower-capacity version with 240 passengers in a three-class configuration. The lower capacity allowed for additional fuel tank space so that this version could fly up to 8,100 nautical miles (9,300 miles or 15,000 kilometers).

 

Photo: Michael Szczesniak | AeroXplorer

 

The A340-200 was unique in that its wingspan was larger than its fuselage. Its wingspan measured 198 feet as compared to its fuselage's 195 feet. The -200 was 14 feet shorter than the A340-300, whose fuselage measures 209 feet in length. Due to its overall inferiority to the A340-300, the -200 was largely unpopular, and only 28 examples were ever produced. 

 

Airlines who originally ordered the aircraft included Lufthansa, Air France, Austrian Airlines, South African Airways, Royal Jordanian, and Cathay Pacific. Carriers like Philippine Airlines, Aerolineas Argentinas, Conviasa, and Mahan Air would acquire some A340-200s as secondhand aircraft after they had been retired from their original operators.

 

Photo: Michael Pflanzer | AeroXplorer

 

Then-Prince Jefri Bolkiah of Brunei ordered one version of the A340-200 built as an A340-8000. This plane was painted in the Royal Brunei Airlines livery and used for VIP transport. The A340-8000 was called such due to its increased range, MTOW of 275 tons (606,000 pounds), and minor landing gear reinforcements.

 

More on the subject of VIP aircraft, most A340-200s active nowadays are in VIP or government usage. Here are some current operators of VIP A340-200s:

 

  • Saudi Royal Flight (HZ-124)
  • Saudi Alpha Star (HZ-SKY1)
  • Qatar Amiri (A7-HHK)
  • Egyptian Government (SU-GGG)
  • Libyan Government (5A-ONE)

 

Photo: Dohwan Kim | AeroXplorer

 

Can You Still Fly an A340-200?

 

It is possible, but not a simple task to accomplish. There are still two airlines operating A340-200s in passenger service: Venezuela's Conviasa and Iran's Mahan Air. Venezuela and Iran are both sanction-hit nations. Therefore, any aircraft that airlines based in these countries can get their hands on are welcome additions regardless of age.

 



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Conviasa's example is registered YV3554 and is almost 29 years old. It was recently delivered to Conviasa in October 2023 after serving Austrian Airlines and later the French Air Force. This aircraft presently flies from Conviasa's hub in Caracas (CCS) on domestic flights to Porlamar (PMV) and international routes to Havana, Cuba (HAV) and Mexico City Felipe Ángeles (NLU).

 

The Conviasa A340-200 | Photo: Infinite Flight

 

Mahan Air picked up its sole A340-200, EP-MJA, in September 2023. The aircraft had also originally served Austrian Airlines and later the French Air Force. EP-MJA is approximately 29 years old and can be seen on various international routes. According to Flightradar24, the aircraft mainly operates between Tehran Khomeini (IKA) and Istanbul, Türkiye (IST).

 

However, in the past month, EP-MJA has been deployed to various destinations across Mahan Air's international network, including:

 

  • Moscow Vnukovo, Russia (VKO)
  • Sulaimaniyah, Iraq (ISU)
  • Erbil, Iraq (EBL)
  • Delhi, India (DEL)
  • Lahore, Pakistan (LHE)
  • Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan (MZR)
  • Kabul, Afghanistan (KBL)
  • Beirut, Lebanon (BEY)

 

The Mahan Air A340-200 | Photo: Planepics.org

 

Most of these routes are mainly served by Mahan's A340-300, A340-600, or A310 fleets, so even if you don't score the A340-200, you're bound to get a classic one way or the other.

 

In conclusion, it is possible to fly an A340-200 going into 2024. Mahan Air and Conviasa are from sanction-hit countries, so it's unlikely that they will retire their singular A340-200s soon. For the most likely A340-200 flight, try Mahan Air from Istanbul to Tehran.

 

Suppose anyone is serious about trying to fly on one of these aircraft. In that case, it's important to research the travel documents needed to enter Iran or Venezuela and the other countries mentioned on the list.

 



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Hadi Ahmad
Lifelong aviation enthusiast raised in Central Illinois. 777 is the best plane BTW.

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