Airbus’s board of directors has made an “unconditional and unanimous” decision to launch the re-engined, extended-wing A330neo widebody family that will be cheaper to buy and operate than the Boeing 787, Airbus executives declared on Monday at the Farnborough International Airshow. The manufacturer also announced a memorandum of understanding with Air Lease Corporation (ALC) for 25 A330-900neos and promised further orders will follow this week.
The 252-seat A330-800neo and the 310-seat A330-900neo will feature new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and engine pylons, a 3.7-meter wingspan extension to 64 meters, Sharklet wingtips styled after the wingtips on the A350 XWB, and 95 percent spares commonality with the current A330. The manufacturer claims the updated A330neos will reduce fuel consumption by 14 percent per seat compared to current A330s. It aims to freeze the design of the A330neo by the end of next year and make the first delivery in December 2017.
Airbus pegged the average list price of the A330-800neo at $241.7 million compared to $221.7 million for the current A330-200. It expects the A330-900neo to retail at $275.6 million compared to $245.6 million for the A330-300. “Because we’ve already got a fully amortized airplane, we can offer it at very, very attractive pricing, essentially coming up with a game-changing airplane,” said John Leahy, Airbus COO-customers. Compared to the Boeing 787-8 and -9 widebodies, the A330neo will have “equal or slightly better cash operating costs, much better reliability, wider more comfortable seats and a significantly lower price,” he added.
On Sunday here in Farnborough, before the air show, Boeing’s marketing vice president Randy Tinseth told reporters that the re-engined A330 is an acknowledgement by Airbus that it has only a “one-trick pony” with the A350-900. Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Bregier has admitted that he expects most of the manufacturer’s backlog of A350-800s will be converted to A350-900s–but Leahy said there will be no such conversion of current A330 orders to A330neos, and “little or no” A330neo “cannibalization” of the A350-900.
Airbus is investing between €1 billion and €2 billion ($1.36 billion to $2.73 billion) on the updated aircraft and expects eventually to sell 1,000 A330neos, Bregier said.
Leahy said the range of the A330-800neo will exceed that of the 787-8, while the A330-900neo will have shorter range but more seats than the 787-9.
“In reality, I’ve got a 6,200-nautical-mile airplane and a 7,450-nautical-mile airplane and so do they, so we’re in that range,” he said. “I’d give them a thousand miles more against the 330-900. Why am I not particularly worried about that? Because we cover 93 percent of all the missions that they can cover–[but] there aren’t that many people that actually want to fly to Antarctica.”