Key Points:

  • Airbus' A330-800neo, the smaller variant of the A330-900neo, struggles in the market with only 12 orders from five customers.

  • Despite its advanced range and fuel-efficient engines, the A330-800neo's higher per-seat costs and lower capacity make it less appealing to airlines.

  • The A330-800neo faces tough competition from other models, including the Boeing 787, leading airlines like Hawaiian Airlines to switch orders.

TOULOUSE — Airbus' A330-800neo, a more compact version of the successful A330-900neo, has been facing a challenging market environment. With a total of only 12 orders from five customers, including a recent addition from an undisclosed buyer, the A330-800neo is lagging behind its larger sibling in global demand. This model was introduced as a modern replacement for the A330-200 and A330-300 series and as a contender to Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.

Comparison with A330-900neo and Market Response

Despite sharing the same Rolls Royce Trent 7000 engines as the A330-900neo, which promise a 25% reduction in fuel emissions compared to previous-generation aircraft, the A330-800neo's lower seat capacity results in higher operating costs. The aircraft's extended range, about 1,000 miles more than the A330-900neo, hasn't been sufficient to offset its lower cost-effectiveness. The A330-900neo, offering both sufficient range and higher capacity, remains a more economically viable option for airlines.

The per-seat cost inefficiency of the A330-800neo is attributed to its heavier structure, carrying the same systems and engines as the larger variant but with fewer seats. Richard Aboulafia, an aviation consultant, highlighted this issue in a discussion with Business Insider. Additionally, airlines are prioritizing models like the Boeing 787, which better meet their economic and operational needs.

In a notable industry move, Hawaiian Airlines cancelled its A330-800neo order in 2018, opting instead for Boeing's 787-9, set to join its fleet in 2024. CEO Peter Ingram expressed concerns about the A330-800neo's market viability. Currently, only seven A330-800neos are in service, with the last delivery made to Air Greenland in December 2022.

Positive Remarks and Future Prospects

Despite the challenges, the A330-800neo has received some positive feedback. Uganda Airlines praised the aircraft's operational efficiency and range after its first delivery. Kuwait Airways CEO Maen Razouqi also acknowledged the A330-800neo's better margins compared to the Boeing 777 on specific routes. However, he admitted that the A330-900 variant would provide a better economic footprint.

Kuwait Airways' initial deployment of the A330-800neo on the New York-JFK route has since reverted to the Boeing 777, and plans for expanding the A330-800neo's use to other destinations like Washington, DC, have been shelved. This shift indicates the ongoing challenges Airbus faces in increasing the A330-800neo's appeal in a competitive market.