AVNEWS | A330 vs Dreamliner: which one is better for transatlantic low-costers?

Which aircraft is better for transatlantic flights or Boeing 787 versus Airbus A330?

Norwegian airlines’ Boeing 787 Dreamliner

In 2017, a new niche in passenger traffic was formed - transatlantic low-budget flights.
Already there are two key players: a long-haul division of Norwegian airlines, using new Boeing 787-8 and 787-9, and a specially created branch of the International Airlines Group (IAG) - LEVEL, whose fleet is made up of the old Airbus A330-200 model. The remaining competitors are on the way, although some - like Ryanair - are stalling on the spot.

Now is a good time to compare the options of “workhorses” for cheap flights from the Old World to the New.

LEVEL’s Airbus A330-200

What is LEVEL

In early November, at the presentation for investors, IAG General Manager Willy Walsh said that the A330 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner are about the same in their consumer qualities on the airline’s target route from Barcelona to Buenos Aires: if the second is more economical, then the first will win back all low capital costs.
Speaking of the Airbus A330, Walsh meant the A330-200.
When in the beginning of 2017 the viability of transatlantic low-budget transportation became evident, there was no time for long preparation. The market was captured by Norwegian - the only company that ventured to order new wide-body aircraft for this model.
Of the three European “traditional” giants who have sufficient resources to chase the local leader - Air France-KLM, Lufthansa Group and IAG - the latter was the quickest.
Logic was probably the next.
The largest metropolis in Western Europe with a powerful airport, great demand for long-distance transportation and without airlines that can satisfy it, is Barcelona.
There is already a carrier of the group - a typical European loukoster Vueling (VY). Office space, airport slots, personnel, sales channels - everything is ready.
In the same country, there is one of the two key companies of the group - Iberia (IB). With a large fleet of wide-body aircraft.
As quickly as it was possible, two Airbus A330-202 Spanish national carriers were transferred from Madrid to Barcelona. Inside the airplanes, the arrangement of the seats and the fabric covers on their head restraints were changed, and a new livery was put on the outside. All.
LEVEL does not have its code and even its employees - in fact, as long as these are a bit specific Iberia routes.

Why Airbus A330-200?

The Madrid division of the IAG has a very extensive fleet entirely composed of Airbus products.
These are 17 very long four-engine handsome A340-642, 8 economical A330-302 and the 12 most compact of this collection A330-202. Why did the choice fall on them?
A340-642 are too large for a low-coster and are designed to handle lines with a noticeable share of business passengers.
A330-302 with a dense seating arrangement and full loading (these are the requirements of the business model) are not able to fly as far as market demand requires.

While the planes of the new carrier operate on lines from Barcelona (BCN) only four points:

  • Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, distance 7,054 kilometers;
  • Oakland, California, distance is 9,592 kilometers;
  • Los Angeles, also in California, the distance is almost 9,700 kilometers;
  • Buenos Aires - on the way 10,458 kilometers.

The last appointment and choose after Willy Walsh.

The classic: Airbus vs Boeing.

Compare the A330-200 and the Boeing 787-8 (closest to the dimensions of the model), filling them in accordance with a single standard, which uses LEVEL: 21 chairs with a step of 37 inches (three rows of seven pieces, formula 2 + 3 + 2) in a premium economy class, and the rest of the space is filled with seats in the base class of service with a step of 30 inches (eight pieces in a row by the formula 2 + 4 + 2 from Airbus or nine in a row of 3 + 3 + 3 from Boeing).
A330-200 will take on board 314 passengers, Boeing 787-8 will hold 308.
We will add a new generation A330-800, which may well be ordered by both IAG and new players in this market. Its capacity will be similar to the “two hundredth”.
We assume ESAD is equal to 10 555 kilometers (5 700 nautical miles).
The fuel consumption will be as follows:

  • Airbus A330-200 - 67.3 tons,
  • Airbus A330-800 - 62.5 tons,
  • Boeing 787-8 - 60.4 tons.

If a barrel of kerosene costs about 63, then the A330-200 spends over 4,000 dollars over the Dreamliner, and the A330-800 spends 1,250 for one-way flight.
Details: Why is not sold Airbus A330-800
Other expenses:

  • pilots and flight attendants - the costs are similar, since their number on board for all aircraft is the same;
  • engine maintenance - the cost is approximately the same;
  • maintenance of the airframe - Boeing wins about $ 900 for the Airbus as its composite body does not need regular checks for corrosion and fatigue cracks in the metal);
  • airport charges for landing, take-off and maintenance - Boeing again wins both Airbus, this time around $ 300, as it is lighter (228 tons of maximum takeoff weight versus 242 tons for European cars).

Total, the difference in operating costs between the Airbus A330-200 and the Boeing 787-8 is about $ 5,200.
Between Airbus A330-800 and Boeing 787-8 - about 2 450 dollars. And every time in favor of the American product.
Now let’s turn to capital expenditures.
Since they are for this type of aircraft are at the level of 28 … 30 thousand dollars per shoulder, we can assume that the Airbus A330-200 should be 20% cheaper than the Boeing 787-8, in order to have equal economic efficiency.
For the Airbus A330-800, this is a 10% discount to the competitor.
Further calculations rest on individual price conditions for buyers who are one of the main secrets on the market. But if we compare the data of independent analysts: on average 93,08 million US dollars for the new A330-200 for deliveries in 2017 and 119,90 million for the Boeing 787-8, the game of the European manufacturer is becoming clearly visible for increasing the attractiveness of its product due to decrease in capex.


  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner
  • Airbus A330
  • I like both

0 voters

Sources used

based on article from aeronautical.online
Photos were taken from the original article
Translated by Alexander Nikitin

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The 787 dreamliner is lighter, more fuel efficient and cheaper to operate compared to the A330.


Then how do they manage to fly it?

I am really enjoying these AVNEWS thing that you’re doing. Keep it up 👍


This is really well detailed. Hope you carry on AVNEWS!


Really interesting, specially for me as I live in BCN and I’ve seen Level and Norwegian long-haul taking off for a while. Furthermore, I’m taking a Norwegian 787 to EWR next January.
Just to made something clear, the Level’s A332 were both new, they were options for Iberia that finally were taken to be used by Level.

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The dream liner is old. The a330 is WAYY newer


just trying to get some salty Boeing fans on me

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Don’t you mean a330-300?

Nice article btw

Airbus A330-800 is neo version of A330-200

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I know. I was confused because the a330-800 hasn’t even started production.

Cause no-one buys it. I’ll cover that later in an article.


Interesting write up!

There’s a couple of things I’d like to ask however:

The source doesn’t seem to state where it gets the burn numbers from. A quick google results in 5590kg/hr (OR 4902kg/hr for another source) for the A332, and 4900kg/hr for the 788. It’s rather hard to find exact numbers due to the lack of reliable information, but it’s safe to say that the 788 will definitely burn less than the A332.

Also, the source fails to mention that Boeing have raised 787 list prices to make up for earlier losses. Quite surprising is also that if the A332 is selling at

then it’s a huge discount from the list price of 233.8M here. Before I get flamed for thinking that list prices are what their actually sold for, I know that airlines get discounts. However 50% seems a bit much, even for a plane that’s going out of production. For comparison, the list for the 788 is 224.6M.

Also, the A332 has a higher MTOW and MZFW than the 788 (524700lbs vs 502500lbs, 370376 vs 355000 respectively). This allows the A332 to lift more cargo, giving it the cost advantage for shorter sectors. For longer missions however, the 788 easily trounces the A332 due to the better fuel burn.

The last thing to take note of is for an airline that flies only Airbus, it would also be easier to have the crews retrained for the A330 rather than keeping two seperate groups for the different families.

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Hello, guys!
I’m preparing a new article, but I need your opinion about what should be next. Please vote, as it means a lot for me.

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Keep up the good work. Looking forward to the next article :)

If anyone wants to know more about Level’s launch 👋

New post is up!

Interesting analysis, here are some things I found noteworthy

Those fuel-burn numbers seem about right as a set of averages over a set of flights. Though it is important to note that fuel-consumption figures matter less now considering the global oil supply. With the price of oil being low barring a black-swan event or a coordinated OPEC effort, fuel-burn advantages are negligible in the grand scheme of things ($13 per seat, or 0.13¢ per ASK).

Keep in mind Airbus has a more established support structure for the A330, retired frames provide a source of cheap parts operators of the 787 do not have access to. This might be able to tip the scales in the A330’s favour. In addition, methods of assessing CFRP airframe damage have not been fully established yet, new discoveries can drive up repair and inspection costs over time.

The rest of the analysis is good, but keep in mind that current end-of-line A330 CEOs for 2018 delivery may be very cheap if Airbus has delivery slots burning a hole in their pockets.

50% is quite low for some aircraft orders. We know Boeing gave UA 72% off their 737-700s to stop them from buying CSeries. Boeing also gave Air Canada 63% off their 777-300ERs two years ago and the current discount for end-of-line frames to bridge the gap to the 777X is even bigger now.

Keep in mind that LCCs aim for the shortest turnaround time possible, additional time for unloading LD3s and bulk freight might not be what they want. The Air-Freight market has been struggling over the past couple of years, established carriers are struggling to stay afloat, I can’t imagine an additional 5-6 tonnes of belly-cargo being that much of a boon for LCCs. Most of the payload available is taken up by the higher capacity passenger decks anyway.


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