On The Double......
Updated: Feb 27, 2021
What’s the saying about buses, ……“you wait ages for one and then two turn up at once”……..
Well very occasionally, this phenomenon occurs with aircraft, interesting aircraft that is. As we are only too aware, the term interesting and aircraft is becoming a much reduced combination, thanks in no part to C-19 and the long list of forced retirements.
Each has their own personal list of what constitutes an interesting aircraft but certainly, with four-engined airliners taking a nosedive, any ‘quad’ is a welcomed sight………..
So how about two Airbus A340’s on the ground, together, at Dublin Airport. Yes, other larger locations such as Frankfurt Airport, London Heathrow or many others, do enjoy visits by multiples of certain rare aircraft but the A340 is disappearing at a rate and an opportunity bringing two from the one airline together, even for a brief moment is something worth documenting.
Recently, Saturday 23rd of January last, A340-313 (D-AIFF) of Lufthansa, arrived at Dublin Airport at 11:34 in the morning, appearing a little disheveled for itself. The sight, one to celebrate, coming into view on short finals, landing lights ablaze, that all important four engine silhouette just visible in the distance. And for once, an uncommon visiting aircraft, not on PPE delivery.
D-AIFF had a date with Eirtech Aviation for a long overdue ‘make-over’. Painting was the reason for this A340’s Dublin visit. Having displayed the “Star Alliance” special livery since 2015, D-AIFF is possibly giving up this “suit of clothes” and it’s date with the paint hangar is to apply the current new Lufthansa “standard” livery as a ‘freshen-up’. While it’s fair to say, Lufthansa’s revised livery is simple and sharp, it’s not exactly “eye catching” whereas the “Star Alliance” design, was something different.
This particular air-frame is 19 years old and has been with Lufthansa since new in 2001. Named “Delmenhorst” after the German city, it’s one of six A340’s in the fleet painted in “Star Alliance” colours. Dublin Airport would not be a scheduled destination by Lufthansa A340’s, the type used for long-haul rotations. Flying the Lufthansa banner at Dublin is more likely to be A319’s, A320’s & A321’s and with Lufthansa Cityline, service is likely to be with Bombardier CRJ-900’s & Embraer E-190’s.
Awaiting the arrival of this German visitor was indeed another. Sister-ship D-AIGM, Airbus A340-313 had just completed its appointment at Eirtech Aviation where the 1997 yr aircraft was transformed from former Lufthansa livery to the current colour scheme. This A340 travelled to Dublin for the first time on the 7th of January this year and was now being readied to return to its keeper.
Like other Lufthansa A340-300’s, both of these examples are configured in a 3-class cabin layout in the order of C18-W19-Y261. Having posed in the Dublin winter-sunshine for long enough, at 13:22 it was time for D-AIGM to take flight and make head-way back to Frankfurt. With four CFM56 turbofan’s powering it into the air, D-AIGM took just 1h 37min to complete the short return flight.
Two days later and it was a much lengthier stretch to undertake, as D-AIGM performed a return flight from Frankfurt to Bengaluru, India. The 8h 30min outward sector was overshadowed by a much longer 9h 50min return flight on the 26th. This was only a stamina-building exercise for the 24 yr old A340, as the day after it was dispatched to San Jose – Costa Rica, taking a mighty 12h 08min. There’s life in the old girl yet!
Lufthansa has a long tradition of operating the Airbus A340. Beginning in 1993 with new deliveries of both the 200 & 300 series. The airline appeared out of favour with the 500 series, instead opting for the impressive A340-600 from 2003 onwards. Now with the world a different place, Lufthansa have decided to remove all 600 series from their operations, joining the now long gone 200’s but keeping a number of A340-300’s in service – hence the two recent visitors to Dublin for painting.
From an enthusiasts perspective, it’s disappointing to see the stretched 600’s departing to long-term storage or worse, much admired and enjoyed for its sheer spectacle, the A340-600 an imposing aircraft. It’s not all doom & gloom, at least the A340 remains active with Lufthansa, all-be-it in 300 series. It’s pleasing Lufthansa will continue flying the A340 in the immediate future, however with uncertainty lingering in the air, one fear’s its days are numbered……….
Photo by Stephen Pekofsky