SWISS has delayed (yet again) the refurbishment of its aging A340-300 fleet. But the plane will not be retired anytime soon.
In an era of efficient, twin-engine 787s and A350s, four engine aircraft are on the decline. But after originally planning to retire them, SWISS has breathed new life into its A340 fleet.
The plan was to have all of them refurbished by the end of last year. That did not happen and the new retrofit completion date was set for around this time this year. But that did not happen either. Now SWISS hopes to update all three cabins on this aircraft by the late spring or early summer of 2019.
What is the reason for the delay? First class. Ah, SWISS First Class…
While SWISS is not planning a revolutionary new product aboard the A340, it is facing certification issues with its new first class seat, which will resemble what is available onboard the 777-300ER.
Currently, SWISS still has a fairly dated first class seats aboard its A340s. I’ve flown this once before several years ago from Shanghai to Zurich. The same plane still operates the same route. The soft product also has not changed. I bet if I published the trip report from seven years ago now and did not date it, no one would know the difference.
The refurbished A340s will also feature new IFE, updated galley, and additional seats in economy class. With this update, SWISS plans to keep the A340s in the fleet for several more years.
This is an important lesson that even in wealthy Switzerland, it is not always cost-efficient to dump less efficient aircraft for more efficient ones. SWISS will retain its gas-guzzling aircraft because it sees that as a better alternative to the capital expenditure required for new aircraft.