Why the A330neo program might see only one aircraft?

Economical analysis of why the Airbus A330-800 is not selling well.

Airbus A330-800 in the designer’s presentation: the aircraft has not been built even for certification tests.

Airbus A330neo first climbed into the sky on October 19, 2017. It was a long version - A330-900, a neo-version of the A330-300 aircraft.
At the moment, the total volume of sales and deliveries of short and long Airbus A330 initial production is approximately comparable: 720 units of 290-seat A330-300 and 650 units of 246-seat A330-200.
But the picture changes, if you look at the latest period: in 2016 the manufacturer received orders for 16 “two hundredth” and 34 “three hundredth”.
In the neo generation, the gap is simply blatant: six A330-800 aircraft for Hawaiian Airlines (HA) versus 206 A330-900 units for seven carriers and three leasing companies. But why?

The first airbus A330-300 to enter service in it’s launch customer livery - the French Air Inter. Today this aircraft is in Brussels air fleet.

A330-300: large aircraft for not very long routes

The Airbus A330 was introduced in 1994 as the A330-300 with the French Air Inter as the starting user.
The range of the aircraft with 212 tons of maximum takeoff weight was 7410 kilometers. With this indicator, he practically could not compete with the best-selling Boeing 767-300ER, capable of flying more than 10,000 kilometers. The A330-300 was suitable for flights from Europe to North America - but no more.
The novelty was simply the “younger” sister of the A340-300 (over 12,000 kilometers and no ETOPS restrictions), and in this capacity it was quite possible to consider it successful.

ETOPS - Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards are given from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and mean the ability to fly over an unoriented terrain.

The first delivered A330-200 in service with Korean Airlines.

A330-200: not very large airplane for long routes.

But to combat Boeing, the European manufacturer revised the design, with the fixed wing reduced the length of the fuselage, increased the takeoff weight to 230 tons - and in 1998 introduced the first version of the A330-200, which was able to transport 240 passengers to a distance of 12,000 kilometers.
As a result, against the backdrop of the “three hundredth”, able to work only on medium-range lines, the sales of a truly long-range “two-hundred” were at a good level. It was able to go on the A340 routes, offering a capacity for 50 passengers less - but also at lower operating costs.
The A330-200 production line was active until 2016, producing about three planes a month. In 2017, there was a slowdown to 33 units, most of them - the military transport MRTT (Military tanker and utility transport). Having completed orders for the ceo-version (Current Engine Option), the manufacturer should launch the release neo, but the queue of buyers for it is not worth it. Six aircraft for Hawaiian Airlines moved to 2019 and 2020.
How did it happen that the share of the short version fell from 40% to 3% in just a few years?

The elder brother eats the younger

The first: A330-300, and even more so, its successor A330-900 significantly improved its performance.
“Three hundredth” now flies further 10 000 kilometers or is in the air longer than 12 hours. “Nine-hundredth”, presumably, even in the standard mass configuration will be able to overcome 11,700 kilometers.
Second: the versions do not differ much in operating costs.

The fuel efficiency

For comparison, choose a calculation for 4,500 nautical miles (8,335 kilometers). This is a typical transatlantic flight from the West European airport to the Midwest USA - one of the main niches for the A330.
We will accept the configuration of the standard salons: 246 seats for the A330-200, 250 seats for the A330-800, 290 seats for the A330-300 and 294 seats for the A330-900, and occupancy is 100%.
Overrun fuel let it be 5% (due to unpredictable weather conditions - mostly headwinds), wait for a landing permit - 30 minutes, and the remaining reserves - for a flight of 370 kilometers.
In this case:

  • A330-200 will consume 50 tons of aviation kerosene,
  • A330-800 will spend 45.5 tons,
  • A330-300 will burn 54 tons, and
  • A330-900 uses 49 tons of fuel.
    If we take A330-800 per unit, then the cost figures in terms of per passenger will look like this:
  • A330-200 - 112%,
  • A330-800 - 100%,
  • A330-300 - 102%
  • A330-900 - 92%.
    It turns out that the short “eight hundredth” loses to the long “nine hundredth” 8 percentage points of fuel costs per passenger.

The operation costs

If you compare all the expenses, you will get something like this.
There is no significant difference in the pay for flight attendants: in some cases, the number of crew will be one person less for short aircraft, but long ones easily overlap this saving by revenue from the sale of additional seats.
Fuel consumption in terms of one seat shows - as already calculated above - the advantage of long -300 and -900 by about 10%.
The cost of maintenance is almost identical: short and long aircraft have the same engines.
The maximum takeoff weight is close to them, and -200 even heavier than their long backup -300. This figure affects airport fees - and given the difference in roominess, the long versions are again cheaper for the same 10 … 13% per passenger.

Airbus A330-900 during the first flight on October 19, 2017

Disappointing conclusion

Total, with a flight range of just under 13,000 kilometers for the promised weighted up to 251 tons of variant, Airbus A330-900 “cannibalize” its fellow.
An average of 50 passengers more, a 10% gain in economic efficiency and a sufficient flight distance to serve all the routes of potential customers of the model do not leave the chances of the A330-800.
In addition to those rare cases where an additional 1500 kilometers of track are important - as for the main carrier of the state of Hawaii.

What you feel about not seeing Airbus A330-800?

  • I don’t care
  • Well, I feel a little bit sad

0 voters

Sources used

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

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Simple answer: Spend a few extra million and you’ll get an A350. Airbus is pretty dumb for even making an A330 NEO program. Just smh.


I agree, I see no reason for the 330NEO. Yeah yeah the A330 sold well but that program is over, buy some A350s.


Well written topic! Well, it will take some time. Not all big things start out famous. I think the more flight hours the aircraft gets under it’s belt, the more willing airlines are gonna be to invest in it.

Yeah, let them whip out an extra $52 million per aircraft. If they were to swap orders, that would be an extra $300 million total, raising the cost from $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion, a difference of the price of an A350. I don’t think a smaller company like Hawaiian has that kinda money.


So…purchase 1 less aircraft. I still think you will be getting the money back with the A350, and also you get way more range to reach more destinations.


Well, the way I see the A330 program is this.

A333: 757ER (If it was real)
A332: Steroided A332 Which lost some seats in a war againts rising fuel Prices.
A338: (See B787-8)
A339: A smaller A380 plus, no reason but keep the plane/program alive.

These are my thoughts.

imo I think that the A338 is a reply to a B757 MAX or the Rumoured B797

I’m not sure if this answer an Aer Lingus pilot gave me is true but I asked him, if Aer Lingus would ever order A330 NEO aircrafts, and he said they will.

Not all NEO programs work, Airbus.

I liked the look of the old A330’s anyways. :)

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I think it’s more complicated than that.

That’s a huge loss in money for the airline then. They don’t need the massive range of the A350, as flying non stop to Dubai isn’t always where the money is at. All you may need is range to get you to the east coast. Ordering one less plane would be a much bigger hit than a lack of range.

7 A330-900 = 2,009 seats (In typical 287 seat capacity)
6 A350-900 = 1,896 seats (In typical 316 seat capacity)

The 113 seat difference makes a huge difference, especially over the course of 15 or so years hat the aircraft would likely be serving. Not to mention the lack of an entire route and flexibility with one less aircraft.

As you can see, the industry is no where near as simple as “paying a few million more” or “simply order one less aircraft”. There’s a whole logistical side of things of why airlines do what they do. I could go into much more detail, but hopefully you get the idea.


Hawaiian ordered the A350-800, which was canceled by Airbus due to lack of sales. They then switched the order to A338, but HA are now considering switching to the A359 to get longer flights (Inc Europe)


I would rather Hawaiian airlines buy A330-900 than the 800 but i would rather A350 over A330
Now what would really make me happy is if Hawaiian airlines got 77W’s and flew to London and Dubai with them.

Nice topic

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Oh well…guess all the A330 fans will have to go to Boeing.

Unfortunately, things don’t work that way in the real world when it comes to fleet decisions. The A350 is not as competitive on shorter routes because it is optimized for longer routes. Why would an airline pay for capacity they won’t need, for an aircraft that may or may not have lower trip-costs for their mission profile? Any airline financial manager would look at that and nope right out of there. There is a potential niche for the A330-900NEO, all of those short-haul widebodies flying around Asia aren’t going to replace themselves.


Next post will be about what might become year’s biggest aircraft purchase

Not to mention the fact that most airlines are looking for commonality – that’s why you see that most airlines on the order books (DL, HA, TP, D7, SB, GA, and IR) already own the A330. One of the major selling points of the A330neo is the fact that a lot of the parts used will already be in the maintenance stores of airlines already flying A330s, making part replacement easier and reducing cost and time required to adjust to adding a new type of aircraft in the fleet. An A350, although it may have better economics, doesn’t have the same type of parts or commonality that the A330neo does with the A330, making it cheaper not only to have the same number of A330neos compared to A350s by price point, but also by other costs associated with buying a new aircraft.

And there’s another key point to the equation that people are missing with the A330-800neo – which, once again, is type commonality. Yes, the A330-900neo is more efficient than its smaller sibling, and yes, the A350 is better than both, but airlines that buy the A330-900neo will most likely also buy the A330-800neo if they need it. Airlines like DL possess both types. And you may ask yourself, why?, considering that in a similar case the A333-300 would be more efficient in CASM compared to the A330-200. Well, the thing is, type commonality is an important factor. It may be more efficient for that segment to have a new type like the 787-8 introduced for that market, but the lower cost and improved commonality of an A338 and A339 combo to cover the entire market from 250-280 seats compared to a 788 A339 combo means that airlines will buy it in order to cheaply cover more market segments. It may be less efficient, but it costs less in spare parts and maintenance than a new type, meaning that as a result, it’s actually beneficial to have both types instead of two separate ones. And you see this everywhere – the 787-9 has a lower CASM than the 787-8, but airlines have a need for the -8 and don’t want to invest in a totally new type for that market which can’t support a -9. The 737-700 and -800 have a higher CASM than the 737-900, but airlines still buy it because they need it (capacity, range, runway length, or otherwise). Just because it has a lower CASM doesn’t mean it’ll be the only type sold.

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The A330 is nowhere near a 757, the 757 is a narrowbody medium haul plane where the A330 is a long haul aircraft.

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A 757ER Sorry forgot it