Kuwait Airways has just become the world’s first airline to take delivery of the A330-800neo.
Kuwait Airways’ A330-800neo
Kuwait Airways has today taken delivery of its first two Airbus A330-800neos. The airline has a total of eight of these planes on order, which are part of an investment by the airline to modernize its fleet.
Kuwait Airways A330-800neo
Prior to these new deliveries, Kuwait Airways has 15 Airbus aircraft in its fleet, including:
- Seven A320s
- Three A320neos
- Five A330-200s
Kuwait Airways’ A330-800neos feature a total of 235 seats, including 32 fully flat business class seats and 203 economy class seats. Kuwait Airways installed Collins Aerospace Super Diamond seats in business class, which are the best business class seats the airline has ever installed on a plane.
— Kuwait Airways (@KuwaitAirways) October 29, 2020
The A330-800neo is extremely rare
For those of you not familiar with the A330neo, it’s the latest plane in the A330 product line. It builds on the features of the popular A330 (including the A330-200 and A330-300), while leveraging technology developed for the A350.
The world’s first A330-900neo entered service in late 2018, and now almost two years later the world’s first A330-800neo is entering service. However, these planes have seen vastly different demand from airlines:
- Only 14 A330-800neos have been ordered
- Meanwhile 318 A330-900neos have been ordered
What airlines ordered the A330-800neo?
- Eight have been ordered by Kuwait Airways
- Two have been ordered by Uganda Airlines
- Up to four that have been ordered by an undisclosed customer; we know that Air Greenland plans on acquiring one A330-800neo, so that may be part of the undisclosed four plane order
Interestingly Kuwait Airways may have been talked into getting these planes. Hawaiian Airlines had placed an order for A330-800neos but ended up canceling it, and then it’s my understanding that Kuwait Airways took over the order. I imagine the airline got quite a deal on the planes.
Uganda Airlines A330-800neo
Why hasn’t the A330-800neo been popular?
Why have over 95% of A330neo orders been for the A330-900neo, with the A330-800neo having seen such little interest? It’s worth considering the two main differences between the planes:
- The A330-800neo has a capacity of 257, while the A330-900neo has a capacity of 287
- The A330-800neo has a range of 7,506nm, while the A330-900neo has a range of 6,550nm
In other words, the A330-900neo can seat an extra 30 passengers, while the A330-800neo can fly an additional 1,000nm. Which plane makes more sense depends on which of those metrics is more important for airlines.
Personally I get why the A330-900neo has been so much more popular than the A330-800neo:
- The operating costs of the A330-900neo are marginally higher than the A330-800neo; admittedly the larger plane may offer too much capacity for some markets, but even selling seats at a great discount airlines would likely come out ahead
- 6,500nm of range is already really significant, so unless airlines are trying to use these planes for ultra long haul flights, there are few situations where the A330-800neo’s additional range is needed
- For ultra long haul flights airlines have generally gone with either the 787 or A350, both of which still offer long range and reasonably low capacity (at least compared to previous generation aircraft)
Delta is the first US airline to fly the A330-900neo
Kuwait Airways has become the world’s first airline to take delivery of the A330-800neo. Uganda Airlines will take delivery of its first A330-800neo in the coming weeks, and then we’ll see what happens from there.
Fewer than 5% of A330neo orders have been for the A330-800neo, while the A330-900neo has been popular.
If you’ve flown the A330neo, what did you think?