Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) has pushed back towards the end of the year the retirement of its A340-600 fleet because an incident on a Norwegian B787-8 last month has altered the availability of Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines.

Planned A340 services between London Heathrow and both Delhi Int'l and New York JFK have been extended from October 26 until December 8, according to Routes Online.

"We're keeping them for about two months longer", Virgin Atlantic's executive vice president for operations, Philip Maher, told FlightGlobal.

A "minor issue" with the supply of Rolls-Royce engines was the reason for the decision, Maher explained.

On August 10, a Norwegian B787-8 suffered a serious engine failure after taking off from Rome Fiumicino, sending molten shards of metal raining down on the southern suburbs of Rome, damaging buildings and cars. About four kilograms of debris from the aircraft's left-hand engine was recovered from the ground, according to The Times newspaper.

Rolls-Royce admitted on September 20 that the blowout had accelerated its Trent 1000 engine repair plan begun in 2018. This will result in dozens of Dreamliners operated by, for example, Virgin Atlantic, Norwegian, and British Airways being grounded in the coming months.

The incident "caused a number of engines to come out of the pool of engines to support Norwegian," Maher said, while "engines coming back from overhaul for us weren't available for four to five weeks".

Virgin Atlantic currently operates 47 aircraft, according to ch-aviation fleets advanced, including seventeen B787-9s and the five A340-600s, as well as eight B747-400s, three A350-1000s (so far delivered out of an order for twelve due through to 2021), four A330-200s, and ten A330-300s.