• Joe Breitfeller

Iberia Bids Farewell to Storied Airbus A340 Fleet After 24 Years of Service

Iberia announced on Friday that their Airbus A340 fleet has been retired. The final flight of their last Airbus A340 took place on August 1st, 2020 with a flight from Quito to Madrid with 296 passengers.

Commander Víctor Alegre Ramírez and Crew Pose in Front of Iberia's Last Airbus A340-600, Registration EC-JLE - Courtesy Iberia

Today (August 14, 2020), Iberia reported that their Airbus A340 fleet has been retired, with the final flight of their last A340-600 registration EC-JLE having taken place on August 1st, 2020. The final flight of the aircraft, which was named Santiago Ramón y Cajal, took place between Quito and Madrid carrying 296 passengers. The aircraft was piloted by Commander Víctor Alegre Ramírez. The company is replacing their A340 fleet with more advanced and efficient Airbus A350s.

Iberia received their first Airbus A340-300 in 1996 and the new fleet additions were all named after illustrious Spanish women including Rosalía de Castro, Teresa de Ávila, María Pita and Agustina de Aragón, eventually 19 in all. The A340-300 joined Iberia after having achieved a record for the longest nonstop flight between Bourget (France) and Auckland (New Zealand). The historic 19,100 kilometer flight took place in 1993, achieving a record flight time of 21 hours and 31 minutes. Once joining Iberia, the Airbus A340-300s were deployed on routes to Gran Canaria, New York, Mexico, Bogotá, São Paulo and Santo Domingo. On January 13, 1998 the aircraft flew 13 hours to Santiago de Chile, Iberia’s longest route until they launced service to Tokyo.

From 2003, Iberia added Airbus A340-600s, which until 2011 was the longest passenger aircraft at 75.3 meters and had the longest range at 14,600 kilometers. The carrier named the new derivatives after illustrious Spanish men such as Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Salvador Dalí, Jacinto Benavente, Albéniz and Romero de Torres.

Iberia A340-600 'Santiago Ramón y Cajal' Registration EC-JLE - Courtesy Iberia

Over 24 years in operation Iberia’s fleet of A340s experienced many exciting adventures. In 1999, baby Juan Sebastián was born aboard a Madrid-Bogotá flight under the leadership of Purser José Luis Larios, Commander Jaime Ruiz Larrea and a team of experienced doctors. The carrier’s A340s also served on many humanitarian missions to countries including Guatemala, Chile, Ecuador and Haiti. After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Iberia carried 450 tons of relief supplies in cooperation with Mano a Mano, an NGO created by Iberia crew.

Iberia Brings the World Cup to Madrid - Courtesy Iberia

In 2010, one of the airline’s A340s brought the World Cup back from South Africa. Purser Pedro Fernández will never forget opening the door in Madrid for Casillas and Del Bosque. In May 2014, one of the airline’s A340s experienced the first long-haul flight with an entirely female crew. The flight to Bogotá was piloted by Commander Mar Alguacil who said the aircraft flew with “great elegance.” Finally, in 2016 an Iberia A340 piloted by Commander José Ma Ordovás achieved another milestone for Iberia with the launch of inaugural service to Tokyo. Commander Ordovás stated “it is a plane that many of us will miss,” a sentiment undoubtedly shared by many.

Source: Iberia


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