Brazilian airline Azul is standardizing its long haul fleet, in a rather unconventional way, as the airline is retiring planes that it took delivery of just over a year ago…
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Azul orders more Airbus A330-900neos
Azul has just disclosed a firm order for four additional Airbus A330-900neos, from a purchase agreement signed in June 2023. Azul already has five of these next generation jets in its fleet, and previously had three additional jets on order. So with this announcement, Azul’s A330-900neo fleet will eventually consist of 12 jets.
Azul’s plan is to standardize its long haul fleet to exclusively fly the A330-900neo, meaning the airline will retire its remaining A330-200s and A350-900s (more on that in the next section).
While the A350 is Airbus’ flagship long haul aircraft, the A330neo is the other next generation wide body aircraft being produced by Airbus, with great economics and range. The plane has the range to fly 7,200 nautical miles. Azul’s A330-900neos can accommodate 298 passengers, including 34 business class seats and 264 economy class seats.
For those not familiar with Azul, the Brazilian airline was founded in 2008 by David Neeleman (the same guy behind JetBlue, and other airlines). The airline has a fleet of nearly 170 jets, comprised of ATR-72 turboprops, Embraer E195 aircraft, Airbus A320neo-family aircraft, and Airbus A330-family aircraft.
Here’s how Alexandre Malfitani, Azul’s Chief Financial Officer, describes this order:
“We are proud to announce this order, as it confirms Azul as the airline with the most fuel- efficient fleet in the region, with over 80% of our capacity coming from next-generation aircraft. With the five A330neos we currently operate and the seven we now have on order, we will standardize our international fleet, allowing us to further enhance Azul’s renowned customer experience and on-time performance.”
Azul is retiring its Airbus A350-900s
Azul ordering more Airbus A330-900neos isn’t the only change coming to the carrier’s fleet. The airline will also be retiring its fleet of two Airbus A350-900s, which the airline just took delivery of in late 2022.
Both of these jets were roughly six years old, and previously flew for Hong Kong Airlines, which ended up discontinuing long haul flights during the pandemic. So now they’ll be looking for a new home again. Azul is planning on retire these planes as of early 2024.
It’s unusual to see an airline dump modern jets after just over a year, so I’d be curious about the logic for this:
- Admittedly there’s not much efficiency to having a fleet of just two aircraft in terms of maintenance, crew training, scheduling, etc., so I can see why this fleet didn’t work out ideally
- I imagine this comes down to the lease terms for these A350s, which somehow allowed the airline to get rid of these planes without some major penalty; perhaps this was even somehow negotiated as part of the A330-900neo order
Now these jets that are just six years old will be getting a third operator. Hopefully the next airline has better luck than Hong Kong Airlines and Azul…
Azul Brazilian Airlines has placed an order for four additional A330-900neos, bringing the carrier’s eventual A330neo fleet to 12 jets. The A330-900neo will become the carrier’s sole long haul aircraft, as Azul retires not only its older A330-200s, but also its A350-900s.
What do you make of Azul ordering more A330-900neos and retiring A350-900s?