Only 10 Airbus A310s are still in passenger service
Over the years of production of the A310, 252 units have been delivered to airline customers. Today, only 27 remain in active service, mostly with government owners and the Air Force. However, there are still 10 passengers who can fly today – this is where you will find them.
The largest fleet
Iranian operator Mahan Air is the world’s largest user of the A310. Data from ch-aviation shows he has five in active service, with five more already retired. The other five range from 23 to 31, and all are the A310-300 model.
Two were delivered new to Lufthansa, one to Turkish Airlines and the other two to Uzbekistan Airways and CSA Czechoslovak Airlines. Turkish and Uzbek planes came directly to Mahan, while the other three spent time with other airlines. These included MIAT, Kyrgyz Trans Avia and Vertir Airlines.
Most have been with Mahan for some time. EP-MMP has been part of its fleet since 2002, while -MNO and -MNV were added in 2009. 2014 saw the arrival of -MMJ, while the aircraft from ex-Uzbekistan joined the fleet as well. recently than last August.
Uzbekistan’s A310 is the only aircraft with first-class seats. It has a cabin of 12 first, accompanied by 30 seats in business class and 150 in economy class. The two planes that arrived in 2010 both have 24 seats in business class and 164 seats in economy class, while the densest are -MMJ and -MMP, both with 12 seats in business class and 190 seats in economy class.
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Unique aircraft operators
Ariana Afghan Airlines and Iran Airtour Airlines both have an A310-300 each. Ariana is the largest airline in Afghanistan and is the country’s flag carrier. Its fleet consists of just three planes, two 737-400s and one A310-300. The two Boeings are leased to GECAS, so the A310 is its only aircraft owned.
YA-CAV is a 32 year old A310-300, originally delivered to Turkish Airlines as TC-JDB in April 1989. After 20 years of service with Turkish, it arrived with Ariana in 2009. It is configured in a configuration all-economical, with a total of 237 seats on board.
Iran Airtours has added planes to its fleet in recent years, mostly older and more unusual planes. From a low point in 2013 when he only had three MD-83s, he now has a fleet of 12 planes in his stable. It is a rather mixed fleet, comprising four A300s, one A320, five MD-82s and one MD-83. And the A310, of course.
EP-MDL registered, this is a 29 year old A310-300, originally delivered to Tarom in 1992. It moved to Armenia Airways in 2018, but only for one season, before arriving with Iran Airtour from storage in August 2020. It has 189 seats in economy class and 20 seats in business class.
Tow operators gave the aging A310 a rather glamorous upgrade. Al-Atheer Aviation has given a home to a 34-year-old A310-300, registered HZ-NSA. Originally delivered to Sultan’s Flight in Brunei, the A310 is well used to carrying VIP guests.
However, when Al-Atheer got on the plane in 2004, he gave it a complete makeover. In collaboration with Sabena Technics, the A310 underwent a complete interior overhaul, along with its C Checks to be ready for service. Today it flies with a light load of 43 seats in business class.
– SabenaTechnics (@SabenaTechnics) Dec. 7, 2016
Registered as HZ-NSA, you will not find it on any tracker, as it is blocked on flight tracking sites to allow completely discreet operation. One lucky guy spotted managed to capture this streak in Zurich a few years ago:
National Legacy in Kuwait acquired an A310-300 in 2016, which previously flew for Kuwait Airways. It was previously flown for the government as 9K-ALD, but is now flown by the business charter airline as T7-FTH. Again, this is a rare place, but you can enjoy it in this clip below:
The ‘passenger’ A310
The last plane on our list is sort of still in passenger service. The F-WNOV is a 32-year-old A310-300, first delivered to Interflug and spending some time with the Luftwaffe before arriving in France. Its new owner is Novespace, which has owned the plane since 2014. It takes passengers, but with one major drawback: it has virtually no seats.
For a wide jumbo jet like the A310, having only 43 seats on board is relatively light. But it’s not a VIP-configured A310, it only has seating in one area of the cabin, with the rest of the space left empty – for very good reason.
The plane performs what are called parabolic flights. The passengers are strapped in and take off at an altitude of approximately 7600 m. At this point, the aircraft performed a nose-up maneuver of 50 degrees, ascending to 8500 m before pitching nose down at 42 degrees and returning to the flight level of 7600 m.
The effect on passengers on board is a 22 second period of complete weightlessness. This is used to perform a range of science experiments, as well as rides for the general public. It sounds like a lot of fun and is definitely on my to-do list right now!