Virgin Atlantic has pushed back the retirement date for its Airbus A340-600 fleet after an engine failure suffered by a Norwegian Boeing 787-8 temporarily affected the availability of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powerplants.

The UK operator was due to retire its A340 fleet at the end of October, but “we’re keeping them for about two months longer”, the carrier’s executive vice-president of operations Philip Maher told FlightGlobal on 18 September.

That decision was prompted by a “minor issue with the supply of engines from Rolls-Royce towards the back end of this year”.

Virgin A340

Virgin Atlantic

A Norwegian Boeing 787-8 suffered a serious engine failure after take-off from Rome Fiumicino airport on 10 August, during which parts from the aircraft’s left-hand Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powerplant were ejected over southern areas of the city.

“That caused a number of engines to come out of the pool of engines to support Norwegian,” Maher states, adding that “engines coming back from overhaul for us weren’t available for four to five weeks”.

He stresses that the A340s will only continue to operate “to cover that interim period”.

Maher notes that the carrier expects to “have all of our 787s flying” by November.

Cirium fleets data shows Virgin Atlantic has 43 aircraft in service, including 16 787-9s and five A340-600s, plus one 787-9 in storage.