A news report from the Dow Jones yesterday stated that Airbus had finally removed the Airbus A340-500 that were once ordered by Kingfisher.
Airbus has officially taken (06-Dec-2011) Kingfisher Airlines’ two A340-500s off its order book. The carrier, as previously reported, was expected to cancel the two orders after Airbus announced last month it was abandoning production of the aircraft type (AFP/Dow Jones, 10-Nov-2011). Airbus has not sold an A340 for almost two years. Outstanding orders for the A340 included the two Kingfisher orders and two aircraft for private VP customers.
The A340 program (sadly) has been cancelled, and it has really brought us to the end of an era. The days of aircraft with more than two engines are numbered, with the exception of Very Large Aircraft (VLA) such as the Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380; marking the end of an illustrious era which began with the introduction.
As an aircraft, the A340 was quite obviously flawed, with higher costs than its Boeing competitor, the 777-200/300 ER family. Still, the type managed to catch on with many carriers; those like Iberia, who needed the performance of 4 engines, and those like Lufthansa, who chose commonality with their fleet of A340s that had been ordered before the 777 came out.
In particular, the A340-500 will be missed; it is the longest-range aircraft in the world today, though it has been superseded by the operating economics of the 777-200LR. Still, upon its entry into service, it made routes possible that had not even been conceived just 10 years earlier.
Kingfisher was to use these birds on Bangalore-San Francisco route linking the two IT capitals. Sadly today the route is dominated by foreign carriers, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Lufthansa and Emirates, who, surprisingly offers the shortest total journey times thanks to very quick connections.
Here is a map from our archives of what Kingfisher’s international plans once looked like.
Of course they will likely never achieve these dreams, at least not in the foreseeable future