Cool: Air Greenland Orders Airbus A330-800neo

Filed Under: Other Airlines

It looks like Air Greenland will be replacing their current A330-200 with a new A330-800neo!

Basics of Air Greenland

Air Greenland is such a cool airline that I look forward to flying this coming summer. The airline currently has a single wide body plane, which is an Airbus A330-200 that they use for flights to Copenhagen.

On top of that, the airline operates a fleet of turboprops, which they use for flights within Greenland, as well as for flights to Iceland.

Air Greenland orders Airbus A330-800

As reported by check-in.dk, Air Greenland has placed an order for an Airbus A330-800, intended to replace their current A330-200. The plan is for the airline to take delivery of the plane in the fourth quarter of 2021, so the airline will have their new plane in less than two years.

For quite a while there has been talk of the airline refreshing their fleet, so an evolved version of the A330 doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

The A330-200 that the airline currently operates is about 22 years old, as the plane has been flying since 1998. It initially flew for Sabena, and then has been flying with Air Greenland since 2002.

The list price of the plane is 260 million USD, though I imagine the airline got a significant discount.

The A330-800neo is unpopular

The choice to order an A330-800neo is surprising, because this has been an incredibly unpopular plane.

While the A330-900neo has sold well, with over 300 orders, we’ve only seen two other airlines order the A330-800neo:

  • Kuwait Airways has ordered eight
  • Uganda Airlines has ordered two

Ultimately I guess they thought the A330-800 offered the best capacity for the airline, though it’s still a bit surprising.

Greenland expanding two airports

Currently Air Greenland’s A330 exclusively operates between Kangerlussuaq and Copenhagen. Kangerlussuaq isn’t a major destination in Greenland, but rather it’s just the only airport with a runway capable of handling the A330.

That will be changing soon. The two biggest tourist destinations in Greenland are Ilulissat and Nuuk, though currently their airports are only capable of handling smaller planes.

However, new airports in Ilulissat and Nuuk are expected to open in late 2023, and at that point the plan is to operate direct flights from Copenhagen to those destinations.

The hope is that tourism to Greenland will increase by double digits, between the opening of these new airports, along with the increase in capacity from the new plane.

I wonder what the new interior will look like

I’ll be curious to see what kind of interiors Air Greenland chooses for their A330-800neo. Air Greenland’s A330-200 features 278 seats, including 30 business class seats and 248 economy seats.

Business class seats are only slightly more spacious than you’d find in domestic first class in the US, so it’s not much to get excited about. Then again, Air Greenland’s longest flight is under five hours, and they don’t operate any redeyes, so that does seem sufficient.

I wish we’d see a New York to Greenland flight

I know I’m totally dreaming here and this will almost certainly never happen, especially since Air Greenland only has a single long haul plane. But it sure would be nice to see a nonstop flight from the US to Greenland.

Currently if you want to go to Greenland you can either:

  • Fly to Copenhagen and then backtrack to Greenland
  • Fly to Iceland, and then backtrack to Greenland on a three hour turboprop flight

New York to Nuuk is only about ~1,850 miles, so it’s shorter than any flight from Copenhagen. It would be so cool to eventually see a seasonal, twice weekly flights between the markets, though unfortunately I doubt we’ll ever see that. Well, at least as long as the US isn’t allowed to buy Greenland. 😉

Heck, while I’m totally dreaming, Gander to Nuuk is only about 1,060 miles. You hear that, Air Canada? It’ll be a goldmine, I swear. 😉

Bottom line

Congrats to Air Greenland on the choice to order an A330-800neo. On the one hand, the choice to order such a rare and unpopular plane is surprising, but I’d be willing to bet they got a deal on it.

It’s also exciting to hear that new airports are being developed in Ilulissat and Nuuk, which will make travel to Greenland’s popular destinations easier.

I do wish we’d see Air Greenland expand significantly and add a second long haul plane, though I realize that probably simply isn’t realistic. The country simply doesn’t have the lodging and infrastructure to handle a huge influx of tourists.

What do you make of Air Greenland’s A330-800neo order?

Comments
  1. Will be very cool to see, it’s a very rarely reviewed airline.

    Every now and then airlines try connecting Greenland to Canada but it never lasts very long.

    I always thought the A330-800 was just replacing the A330-200 while the A330-900 was replacing the A330-300. The A330-200 is a very popular plane so surprising that the A330-800 isn’t.

  2. Surprised to see they went for a 1:1 replacement. I would’ve imagined that they would be a perfect candidate for a small fleet of A321neo/LR/XLRs, especially once Nuuk/Ilulissat open and potentially look at expansion to NA.

  3. Count me among those who really wish someone would fly from the US or Canada to Greenland. I would love to visit, but it’s just so dang hard to get there. Which I guess is kinda why I want to go… so I guess I just contradicted myself.

  4. @MH My assumption (on nothing, admittedly) is that they need the cargo capacity. They must bring in a lot of food for the local stores.

  5. Air Greenland used to offer flights to Canada, but it was from Nuuk to Iqaluit. Quite a bit closer and probably more logical than Gander!

  6. A single plane order is unlikely to get a substantial discount unless it is an unpopular plane. I don’t think the airline had a choice.

  7. Sco is right, I spent a long weekend in Nuuk once from Iqaluit (YFB). Air Greenland offered a seasonal flight codeshared with First Air in 2013 I think. First Air/ 7F recently merged with 5T/ Canadian North.

  8. As others have stated, there are occasionally scheduled and charter flights from Iqaluit to Nuuk over the years.

  9. I remember when Air Greenland used to fly seasonally from BWI. I wish I had gone on one of those flights.

  10. There used to be a direct turboprop between Nuuk and Nunavut, especially given the cultural connections between Greenlanders and Canadian Inuits, but these stopped a few years back due to low passanger numbers

  11. If air Greenland wanted to, and I highly doubt they do, they could potentially become Icelandair but further north. That will never happen but it’s kind of cool to think of flying from a secondary European city such as Manchester in the UK to somewhere like Los Angeles via Nuuk, for less money.

  12. Indeed, most analysis is that the A321family would not have the cargo capacity required by this airline. They needed a widebody.

  13. I think you’re missing a few things here:

    Have you looked at the load factor of Air Greenland? It’s been just over 60% from 2013 to 2018, where 2019 totals are unknown yet. They don’t need a huge plane year round and with the short route they operate with the long haul plane, they can operate two daily flights if they want, a few days a week. Air Greenland is more or less a PSO-ish airline making sure that Greenland is connected and is connected with their ‘headquarters’ (Denmark).

    They also use the plane to deliver US troops to Thule Airbase. The number of military people there is quite limited.

    As you pointed out, the A338 is not sold. It’s much cheaper than the A339 in the catalogue, while the max number of passengers isn’t much less (also depending on configuration). I agree that that may lead to a big discount for the airline. So, with the actual demand well covered, and a low price compared to the bigger brother, what’s not to love?

    When it comes to a direct flight between Greenland and the US: they already fly US troops to Thule, so why not extend a portion from domestic Greenland to create a service for both military staff and the general public from a place in the US? Maybe a weekly flight or so? It might work, at least in high season… the bigger question is if Greenland will be ready to be invaded by Rednecks and Hillbillies… 😀

  14. @Ben
    Although Gander is closer to Nuuk, I suspect if Air Canada ever wanted to fly there, it would make more sense to fly from one of their hubs, either YHZ or YYZ. Both an easy distance for an A220.

    @LongWayAround
    “Inuit” is plural, so no need for an ‘s’. The singular is “Inuk”.

  15. First Air (7F) operated between Greenland and Nunavut for quite a long time, even before the above mentioned codeshare with Air Greenland (operated by the latter). If I’m not mistaken, 7F used to operate YFB to SFJ with a B727-200 Combi during a couple of years.

  16. First Air (7F) operated between Greenland and Nunavut for quite a long time, even before the above mentioned codeshare with Air Greenland (operated by the latter). If I’m not mistaken, 7F used to operate YFB to SFJ with a B727-200 Combi during a couple of years.

  17. From check-in.dk (Danish)

    Air Greenland har tilsyneladende købt et splinternyt Airbus A330-800neo langdistancefly til omkring halv pris.

    “Air Greenland has apparently bought a new A330-800neo long-distance plane at a 50% discount.”

  18. I doubt Air Greenland could easily become a further north Icelandair. Icelandair has several things going for it:

    * Fish exports.
    * Iceland is a major tourist destination, where there is a built up infrastructure to handle tens of thousands of tourists at any given moment
    * Exporting fresh fish is lucrative.
    * The stopover program is a popular way to see another country “for free” when traveling between North America and Europe.
    * How else are you going to get fresh seafood to the table without freezing it?
    * Iceland is located close to the great circle route for many pairs between NA and Europe. This means the fares can be competitive.
    * Iceland has cornered the market in high quality cod and they need to get it to market.
    * Reykjavík’s weather is usually suitable for flying.
    * And finally fish exports. Filling the cargo holds of those 757s makes a lot of money.

    Air Greenland would also have the great circle route advantage, but none of the other factors that make Icelandair a success.

  19. Please no mass tourism to Greenland. Those that really wish to visit will find a way (and it’s not really that hard) – thank you

  20. The service between Nuuk and Iqualuit continued to Ottawa. Back in the day, Greenlanders would make their way to YOW to take packaged holidays to the D.R. and elsewhere from there. Ottawa and Montréal are the two most common gateways from Eastern Canada to the Arctic, and have the best service from carriers serving that region.

  21. I wouldn’t say the 338 is unpopular, it just the large majority of the 332’s in service are not ready to be replace, as some of them are still very young in airplane age..

  22. I wouldn’t complain if Air Canada launched a YYT-Greenland flight on the 737 MAX to complement their YYT-London service!

  23. Toronto and Montreal served by Air Canada or WestJet on a 737MAX and Boston by Delta’s 767-300 or JetBlue’s Airbus A321neo (or the XLR, when they get it)

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