Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow) will have to retain its fleet of three A340-600s into 2020, due to the ongoing B787 engine availability problems which have come as a result of an uncontained engine failure at Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen) in August.

The UK carrier had initially intended to exit the four-engined aircraft from its fleet on October 26, however, the type began appearing in the carrier's schedules again beyond this date in September. At the end of October, the airline then moved back the type's planned retirement from December 8 to December 29, but this date is now having to be pushed back even further.

Speaking to ch-aviation, a Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said: "We’re always reviewing our fleet, and timelines around aircraft retirement are always subject to change in order to give us greater flexibility for our customers. Whilst no decisions have been made, due to ongoing supply issues with B787 Rolls-Royce engines, our A340-600s may remain flying a little longer than planned." When pushed for an exact timeline on the type's retirement the spokesperson was unable to provide any firm dates given the situation.

In the past week, the airline has continued to use the three A340-600s on routes from London Heathrow to New York JFK, New York Newark, Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson, and Lagos, as well as from London Gatwick to Bridgetown. The type is also planned to operate flights from Manchester Int'l to Atlanta on December 14, 21 and 22.

Virgin Atlantic currently operates 46 aircraft, according to ch-aviation fleets advanced, including seventeen B787-9s and the three A340-600s, as well as seven B747-400s, five A350-1000s, four A330-200s, and ten A330-300s.