Thursday, 20 August 2020

Iberia saying goodbye to the Airbus A340

Photo Iberia
At an airline like Iberia, with more than 90 years of history, saying goodbye to a model of aircraft is always a bittersweet experience. Bitter because we’ve been through a lot together and we always look back nostalgically on the good times we’ve had together, but sweet because it means a more modern fleet will take over to offer passengers a better flying experience, as is happening with the Airbus A350s that Iberia is bringing into service, a new generation that’s much more efficient, sustainable, and technologically advanced.

It was just over two weeks ago that an Iberia Airbus A340 made its last scheduled flight, when on 1 August the A340-600 christened Santiago Ramón y Cajal flew under captain Víctor Alegre from Quito to Madrid with nearly 300 passengers on board. It was a turning point we’d like to mark by looking back at some of the highlights of the A340’s history with us.




The aircraft started at Iberia in 1996 with great acclaim thanks to an unprecedented feat: its ability to fly the longest direct commercial flight ever, covering the 19,000 kilometers (KT miles) between the French city Bourget and New Zealand‘s largest, Auckland – and in what was then record time, just over 21 hours. This A340-300, the first four-engine model every manufactured by Airbus, was first put into service on the route to beautiful Gran Canaria and gradually went on to connect Madrid with destinations including Mexico City, Bogotá, New York City, and Santiago, Chile; this last became our longest flight – 13 hours – until we resumed our Tokyo route in 2017 (and it was also an A340 – specifically an A340-600 – which first inaugurated that new service to Japan, and the captain of that first flight, José María Ordovás, now tells us that “it’s an aircraft that we will miss greatly”).

There were also some memorable moments on board the A340. One that especially comes to mind is the birth of a baby, Juan Sebastián, during a Madrid-Bogotá flight in 1999. One of the flight attendants who was there, José Luis Larios, tells us “the delivery went very well, and all our passengers were emotional about it, including the members of a medical convention on their way home, and who assisted in the birth”. The A340 also flew solidarity missions to countries hit by natural disasters such sa Ecuador, Chile, and Haití, when the NGO Mano a Mano (Hand in Hand), created by Iberia crew members, sent 450.000 kilos (TK pounds) worth of humanitarian aid via Santo Domingo; the organisation’s vicepresident, Virginia Pombo, says she and her colleagues “will always treasure fond memories of this plane” because its large storage capacity made these aid flights possible.

See below for more photos.





Photo Iberia

Photo Iberia

Photo Iberia

Photo Iberia

Photo Iberia


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