The first scrapping of a new-generation Airbus widebody is looming, with a 13-year-old ex-Virgin Atlantic A340-300 expected to be broken for spares.

 Industry sources say that the aircraft is set to come under the breaker's axe

The A340 (MSN 0016), which is managed by lessor AerCap, was ferried from Hamburg to the company's storage facility at Phoenix Goodyear airport in July. Although AerCap says that "the decision hasn't been made" whether to part out the A340, industry sources say that the aircraft is set to come under the breaker's axe.

According to Flight's ACAS database, MSN 0016 was delivered new to Virgin Atlantic in January 1994 on lease from Airbus, and acquired by AerCap (then called Debis AirFinance) in 2000.

The aircraft was placed with BWIA West Indies Airways in 2004 and returned off lease in January this year after BWIA closed and was replaced by Caribbean Airlines.

In 1997 while operating with Virgin, the A340 was involved in a major incident at London Heathrow, when it made an emergency landing with one of its main landing-gear bogies retracted.

Although the A340 is an early-build example, its utilisation is not among the highest in the A340 fleet. According to ACAS, MSN 0016 has accumulated 55,309h and 7,148 cycles, which is around 10,000h and 6,500 cycles below the A340 fleet leader in each criterion.

Industry sources say that AerCap is considering breaking the aircraft as it would be uneconomical to reconfigure it for onward lease. Another factor is that there is a strong market currently for the CFM International CFM56-5C engines which power the aircraft.

While this would be the first A330/A340 to be parted out, last year Universal Asset Management announced that it had acquired an early-build Boeing 777-200 for scrapping. The ex-BA aircraft had been in storage and it was deemed uneconomical to undertake the work to return them to service.