Hi Fly Modernizes Fleet With A330-900neo

Filed Under: Other Airlines

Hi Fly is a Portuguese wet lease operator. That’s to say that you’ve never actually booked a ticket with Hi Fly, but you may very well have flown on one of their planes.

Often airlines have a need for extra planes, whether it’s due to an aircraft requiring maintenance, due to high seasonal demand, or due to charter operations. That’s where Hi Fly comes in — they have a fleet of planes that can be leased. They operate on a wet lease basis, which means that their own crews operate the flights.

Anyway, right now Hi Fly has a pretty outdated and mixed fleet, including second-hand A330s, A340s, and A380s. While they’re perhaps most well known for their ex-Singapore Airlines A380 (which doesn’t have very many customers), some of their other planes are pretty awesome as well.

Hi Fly A380

For example, I once flew on one of their A340-300s, which used to fly for Emirates. The plane was operating on behalf of Azores Airlines on a flight from Ponta Delgada to Lisbon — talk about a blast from the past!

Hi Fly A340-300

Hi Fly A340-300 first class

Hi Fly A340-300 business class

While the airline has largely been using second-hand planes, shortly Hi Fly will take delivery of one of their first factory fresh aircraft. Hi Fly has 10 Airbus A330-900neos on order, which will give them significant opportunities.

First of all, isn’t their A330-900neo livery cool? Since they’re not a scheduled airline, they have limited branding on their planes, and some are even just white.

Hi Fly A330-900neo

Hi Fly’s first A330-900neo will feature a total of 371 seats. This includes 18 fully flat business class seats, spread across three rows in a 2-2-2 configuration. This is actually a solid product, and much better than most of their other business class seats.

Hi Fly A330-900neo business class

Hi Fly A330-900neo business class

Hi Fly A330-900neo business class

Hi Fly A330-900neo business class

Hi Fly A330-900neo business class

While economy looks nice in the sense that they have personal televisions and the A330-900neo cabin is modern, unfortunately Hi Fly’s first A330-900neo has a 3-3-3 configuration, compared to the standard 2-4-2 configuration. Ouch.

Hi Fly A330-900neo economy class

Hi Fly A330-900neo economy class

Hi Fly A330-900neo economy class

Hi Fly A330-900neo cabin

Even more interesting is that it appears like Hi Fly is planning on offering some different A330-900neo interiors. For example, they also have a seatmap with 32 business class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration, 21 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, and 237 economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration.

Bottom line

An order for 10 A330-900neos is huge, and it will be interesting to see how this changes their leasing business. For the most part their customers have been low cost airlines and other airlines that maybe don’t have the highest standards when it comes to onboard product.

Now that they have brand new planes with fully flat business class seats, I could see more airlines using them when they’re in a pinch. And even more interesting is that they’ll have some different configurations (including some with direct aisle access from all business class seats, premium economy, and a 2-4-2 economy configuration), giving airlines even more options.

  1. Why would you buy ten (expensive) new planes when you have no idea to whom and when you will be able to fill the seats? You have to admire Hifly, they seem to fly in the face of all airline business logic ( like buying a 2nd hand A380 that mostly doesn’t fly anywhere ) yet somehow not going bust!

  2. It might just be how they staged the bedding in the photo, but those seats look angled, not fully flat.

  3. @Niko_jas HiFly has been in business for 14 years and has a fleet of I believe 12 widebodies, not including their a380. They probably will replace all 12 of those frames over time with the neos. Being in business so long, and being pretty successful at what they do, I’d believe they have done their due diligence and have a pretty good idea of how many people they carry in a given year. Companies like this aren’t usually run by the seat of their pants (looking at you Air Italy!)

  4. On HiFly’s website, they also show another A330neo that is scheduled for delivery (9H-SZN) that will have business class in a 1-2-1 configuration, premium economy in a 2-3-2 configuration, and economy class in a 2-4-2 configuration. So they seem to be taking delivery of A330s in two different configurations, one more intended for low-cost airlines and another intended for legacy carriers.

  5. @Aidan, unfortunately more and more. Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, AirTransat, XL airways the ones I know. It really is a terrible configuration. Hopefully when I flew Air Asia and XL airways, I had empty seats next to me.

  6. @Aidan: A lot of LCC’s like Air Asia X, XL Airways France, Corsair, Thomas Cook UK or even Philippine Airlines has some of them.

    I’ve never tried them but they look damn cramped. However as bad as 767’s in 2-4-2

  7. Not only more seats in economy, but they’ve also ditched the middle storage units – so more people trying to squeeze more cabin luggage in less space. Avoid.

  8. Sweet paint scheme on that NEO. Too bad so many mainline carriers around the world don’t have a clue when it comes to nice schemes.

  9. Air NZ subbed in a Hi-Fly A340 for grounded 787s and pax feedback was not good. If I understand it correctly, BusinessFirst pax did not like the lack of all-aisle access and Air NZ had to contact pax booked in Premium Economy and downgrade them with compensation as no such section existed on the Hi-Fly jet.

    The wet lease deal included cabin crew with one Air NZ hand aboard and as much Kiwi soft product as could be accommodated. Not a rousing success.

    Much fewer complaints about the Eva Air 777-300 that replaced the A340 and was even given a NZ registration number.

    This order for brand new A339s, some with PE, suggests Hi-Fly listens to its lease customers. It’ll be interesting to see where these planes pop up.

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