Details: Air Greenland Airbus A330-800neo

Details: Air Greenland Airbus A330-800neo

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In 2020 Air Greenland placed an order for a single Airbus A330-800neo. I’ve long been fascinated by the airline, so found this to be a particularly interesting development. This plane is now fairly close to entering service, so I wanted to provide an update.

Basics of Air Greenland

Air Greenland is such a cool airline that I’m looking forward to flying, hopefully after it takes delivery of its new aircraft. Air Greenland currently has a single wide body plane, which is an Airbus A330-200, and it’s used for flights to Copenhagen. On top of that, the airline operates a fleet of turboprops, which are used for flights within Greenland, as well as for flights to Iceland.

Air Greenland’s Airbus A330-800neo order

In 2020, Air Greenland placed an order for an Airbus A330-800neo, intended to replace the company’s current A330-200. The plan remains for the airline to take delivery of the plane in the fourth quarter of 2022. The list price of the A330-800neo is 260 million USD, though I imagine the airline got a significant discount.

For context, the A330-200 that the airline currently operates is about 24 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.

As noted by Aeroroutes, Air Greenland has now tentatively scheduled the A330-800neo to enter service as of March 27, 2023. As of then, the plane is scheduled to fly between Kangerlussuaq (SFJ) and Copenhagen (CPH). Of course the schedule has the potential to be moved forward, given that delivery is expected well ahead of then (though training can take some time).

Air Greenland Airbus A330-800neo rendering

Why the Airbus A330-800neo is unpopular

In a way, Air Greenland’s decision to order an A330-800neo is surprising, because this has been an incredibly unpopular plane. While the A330-900neo has been popular (with over 260 of the planes having been ordered by airlines), there haven’t even been a dozen orders for the A330-800neo.

Aside from Air Greenland, the A330-800neo is flown by Kuwait Airways and Uganda Airlines, and has also been ordered by Garuda Indonesia, but that’s it.

Uganda Airlines Airbus A330-800neo

Just to compare the specs of the A330-800neo and A330-900neo:

  • The A330-800neo has a standard capacity of 257, while the A330-900neo has a standard capacity of 287
  • The A330-800neo has a range of 7,506nm, while the A330-900neo has a range of 6,550nm

The reason it’s surprising that Air Greenland chose the A330-800neo is because the airline certainly doesn’t need the additional range. I can understand how Air Greenland maybe doesn’t need the extra capacity of the A330-800neo, but the reality is that the incremental operating cost is truly marginal for the extra capacity.

Then again, perhaps the airline can take advantage of the additional weight limit for cargo, as the Air Greenland flight to Copenhagen is one of the primary ways that supplies are shipped to Greenland. I also imagine Air Greenland probably got a better deal on the jet.

Air Greenland Airbus A330-800neo configuration

I was curious to see what kind of cabins Air Greenland would install on its A330-800neos. Given that the airline exclusively flies short flights, I wasn’t expecting anything too exciting, but I was hopeful that maybe we’d see something cool. Well, unfortunately I’m pretty disappointed, and it looks like these jets may represent a downgrade for the passenger experience.

For what it’s worth, Air Greeland’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 United States, so it’s not much to get excited about. That’s ultimately logical, given that Air Greenland’s longest flight is under five hours, and the airline doesn’t operate any redeyes.

Air Greenland’s A330-200 business class

Air Greenland’s A330-800neo will be really dense, as the plane will feature a total of 305 seats, including 42 business class seats and 263 economy class seats. Looking at the seatmap, business class will be in a 2-3-2 configuration, so it’ll be even tighter than what’s available now. It remains to be seen what exactly the product will be like, but it’s not looking good.

Air Greenland’s A330-800neo business class seatmap

Greenland is expanding two airports

Bigger picture when it comes to aviation in Greenland, it’s interesting to note how routes in the country may be changing. 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.

Kangerlussuaq is Greenland’s major airport

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

In 2020 it was announced that new airports are expected to open in Ilulissat and Nuuk. Last I heard the plan was for this to happen in late 2023, though only time will tell if that timeline sticks. Once that happens, the plan is to operate direct flights from Copenhagen to those destinations.

Greenland is expanding two airports

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.

Could Air Greenland ever fly to New York?

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 United States 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.

What a route from New York to Greenland could look like

Fortunately service between Canada and Greenland is at least on the horizon, as Canadian North is considering flying to Greenland. The airline is planning a strategic partnership with Air Greenland, which could see the airline launch several routes, including:

  • Ottawa to Iqaluit to Ilulissat
  • Ottawa to Iqaluit to Nuuk
  • Toronto to Ilulissat and/or Nuuk in the summer months during the tourist season

It’s incredible to think that the flights from Iqaluit to Ilulissat and Nuuk are just 500-600 miles.

Canadian North could fly to Greenland

Bottom line

In 2020, Air Greenland placed an order for an Airbus A330-800neo. The plane should join the carrier’s fleet later this year, and Air Greenland has now scheduled the plane as of next spring (though that timeline could be moved forward).

While I’m excited to see Air Greenland take delivery of this unique jet, unfortunately don’t expect much when it comes to the onboard product. Air Greenland is likely introducing a worse business class product on this plane, as there will be seven seats per row.

It’s an exciting time for aviation in Greenland, between Air Greenland’s A330-800neo order, Canadian North considering flights to Greenland, and airports in the country being expanded.

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

Conversations (18)
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  1. YVRZHR22 New Member

    Greenland airports do not have much Jet fuel reserve as it uses two different ones, the first for jet aircraft and the second for turboprop. Air Greenland has always used long range aircraft in the past as it needs to deal with the highest prices of fuel which can only be serviced by sea tankers from Canada. By filling the aircraft in Denmark it saves quite a bundle as they only need minimal re-fueling in Greenland though they pay to carry the additional fuel.

  2. Ray Mason Guest

    Was stationed at Thule 1956/57. Got there in the dark, left there in the dark. But, I wasn’t a tourist so it doesn’t say much.

  3. Trey Guest

    The 2-3-2 seating should be similar to, say, what is available on Delta's A330-900neo Premium Economy. I can't see them giving more than 38" pitch.

  4. glenn t Diamond

    Since the entire population of Greenland is less that 57,000, it would seem remarkable that it can support any sort of government-run 'national' airline. It however has 32 aircraft, with over half being helicopters, the rest being various light aircraft.
    Given there is no meaningful road connections between towns, and none at all between even smaller outposts due to inpassable snow for much of the year, much reliance is placed on air transport.
    ...

    Since the entire population of Greenland is less that 57,000, it would seem remarkable that it can support any sort of government-run 'national' airline. It however has 32 aircraft, with over half being helicopters, the rest being various light aircraft.
    Given there is no meaningful road connections between towns, and none at all between even smaller outposts due to inpassable snow for much of the year, much reliance is placed on air transport.
    Everyday cargo is the main item, with movement of personnel from the mining and research industries around the country, with tourism negligible.
    A block grant of money from Denmark keeps the country ticking over.
    I recommend anyone interested in the Greenland-Denmark relationship watches the excellent current series of the tele-drama, Borgen, with sub-titles for non-Danish speakers.

  5. Robert Guest

    They chose the -800 for the short field performance. The new runways at Nuuk and Ilulissat when completed still are not "long". Also I heard a podcast with the CEO of Air Greenland where he said they might consider a narrow body for the Iceland routes.

  6. Arash Guest

    Congrats
    It is so nice to hear about the A-330-800 neo , I watched this fantastic plane closely at Dubai Air Show 2021

    I hope company makes flights to Dubai in the future Hopefully

    Safe Landings to Air Greenland

  7. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    The ranges given are outdated. Those quotes are with the 242 tonne MTOW. Both aircraft now received a 9 tonne boost, which puts them at 8100nm and 7200nm range respectively.

    It's insane that the A330-300 frame, which started out with similar range to a 737-300 back in the '90s, now has the same range as a 747-400!

  8. Sean Guest

    Air Greenland also fly their A330 to Pituffik (known by some as Thule airbase) in the far North West of Greenland also originating from Copenhagen. I get the impression it would be about 2 or 3 flights a month and they operate as direct flights and not as an added flight segment via Kangerlussuaq. I know that Narsarsuaq in the very south also has a runway capable for jets but not sure if sufficient for...

    Air Greenland also fly their A330 to Pituffik (known by some as Thule airbase) in the far North West of Greenland also originating from Copenhagen. I get the impression it would be about 2 or 3 flights a month and they operate as direct flights and not as an added flight segment via Kangerlussuaq. I know that Narsarsuaq in the very south also has a runway capable for jets but not sure if sufficient for the A330. Recently the Greenland government announced that Narsarsuaq airport will be downgraded to a Heliport by 2025 when the new airport at Qaqortoq, currently under construction is due to open. Air Greenland also at certain times arrange flights from Billund, chartering an A320 ot 737. For the early part of first Covid lockdown Air Greenland flew their Dash8 turboprops from Greenland to Copenhagen for freight purposes resulting in 7 hour flights. ( Presumably because the A330 was crewed and maintained from Copenhagen and thus restricting contact. Air Greenland is a fascinating operation in it's current schedule.

  9. Sean M. Diamond

    Air Greenland used to fly seasonally nonstop between BWI and SFJ in 2007. The route performed horrendously and was cancelled ahead of the 2008 season.

  10. Roberto Guest

    I am going to Greenland in a month. I will be going by boat. Nuuk is the Capital and SJF was the seat of a major Danish military base - hence the runway size.

  11. Andy Diamond

    To me it looks like their Business Class will be something like SAS Plus, i.e. something positioned even below inter EU Business Class. This might be because the flights actually target rather the local population, than tourists. And even for tourists is definitely not a premium destination, I think there is just one four star hotel in entire Greenland ...

    1. Klaus Guest

      How does it look like SAS Plus to you? Intra-Europe SAS Plus is exactly like Economy (no free middle seat) but with lounge access and an included drink.

    2. aeroguy Guest

      I think it's meant more like SAS Plus on the A330/340/350 - with a dedicated Premium Economy hard and soft product. For flights not exceeding 5(ish) hours and a O&D that doesn't support anything more premium, it makes perfect sense. From a hard product perspective, you're also looking at a pretty basic seat that doesn't require much maintenance, which is critical when a fleet consists of a sole aircraft.

  12. Brandon Guest

    This reminds me of the time trump tried to buy Greenland.

  13. Diego Dave Guest

    If I recall, circa 2008 there was weekly Air Greenland service between Kangerlussuaq and Washington DC for a period.

  14. Francisco C Guest

    Could they run NYC - Greenland - Copenhagen and back all in 24 hours?

    1. Zain Nensey Guest

      It would have to be flown by air Greenland as flying Greenland to Copenhagen is technically a domestic flight.

  15. Chandan Bhat Gold

    "I can understand how Air Greenland maybe doesn’t need the extra capacity of the A330-800neo." I'm guessing you meant the A330-900?

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Sean M. Diamond

Air Greenland used to fly seasonally nonstop between BWI and SFJ in 2007. The route performed horrendously and was cancelled ahead of the 2008 season.

4
ConcordeBoy Diamond

The ranges given are outdated. Those quotes are with the 242 tonne MTOW. Both aircraft now received a 9 tonne boost, which puts them at 8100nm and 7200nm range respectively. It's insane that the A330-300 frame, which started out with similar range to a 737-300 back in the '90s, now has the same range as a 747-400!

3
glenn t Diamond

Since the entire population of Greenland is less that 57,000, it would seem remarkable that it can support any sort of government-run 'national' airline. It however has 32 aircraft, with over half being helicopters, the rest being various light aircraft. Given there is no meaningful road connections between towns, and none at all between even smaller outposts due to inpassable snow for much of the year, much reliance is placed on air transport. Everyday cargo is the main item, with movement of personnel from the mining and research industries around the country, with tourism negligible. A block grant of money from Denmark keeps the country ticking over. I recommend anyone interested in the Greenland-Denmark relationship watches the excellent current series of the tele-drama, Borgen, with sub-titles for non-Danish speakers.

2
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