An October 15 purchase agreement with Kuwait Airways for eight A330-800s gives Airbus a badly needed launch customer for the A330neo family’s smaller variant, whose previous initial customer, Hawaiian Airlines, ditched its commitment for six examples in favor of Boeing 787-9s in late February.
Airbus said it could not comment on whether the contract for the A330neos represents an additional order from Kuwait’ s national carrier or partly a swap from an existing order for 10 A350 XWBs. “We are pleased that Kuwait Airways has opted for the A330neo as a cornerstone of its future widebody fleet,” an Airbus spokesperson told AIN. “Beyond that and as a matter of principle we never comment [on] our customers’ fleet strategy.”
Kuwait Airways in February 2014 firmed a commitment with the Toulouse-based OEM for 25 aircraft, including ten A350-900s and 15 A320neo-family narrowbodies as part of the airline’s fleet-renewal strategy.
“The A330-800 will seamlessly fit into our fleet expansion and growth plans,” said Kuwait Airways chairman Yousef Al-Jassim. “Our relationship with Airbus extends beyond aircraft acquisitions and we look forward to further collaboration on technical fields.”
Delivery of Kuwait Airways’s new Airbus fleet will start in 2019, Airbus said without detailing which model it would deliver first—the A320neo, A330neo, or A350.
Airbus launched the A330-900 and -800 simultaneously at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014. Firm orders for the A330neo topped 224 from 14 customers at the end of September, but all for the -900. Delta Air Lines signed as the launch customer of A330neo and TAP Air Portugal as the launch operator. Air Asia X remains the biggest customer, holding an order for 66.
Upgrades of the A330-200 and -300 respectively, the A330-800 and A330-900 can seat 257 and 287 passengers in a typical three-class configuration. The -800 offers capacity of up to 406 in a high-density LCC configuration.