A330neo: Story of the Spurned Airbus

By Ankur Deo | February 4, 2020

A330neo: Story of the Spurned Airbus, by Travel Radar Correspondent Ankur Deo

In July 2014, Airbus introduced the world to a revamped version of the classic A330, the A330neo. Sporting new engines and new winglets for efficient operation, the A330neo was built with a unique strategy in mind! Since the aircraft was based on an airframe that was designed back in the 1990s, it was nowhere close to the efficiency provided by the its competitor, the Dreamliner, however, the A330neo still created a unique place of its own in the commercial aviation market!

TAP Portugal A330-900(neo). Image Credits: TAP Portugal

When the 787 project was initiated by Boeing, Airbus’ customers urged the manufacturer to provide a competitor. Initially Airbus considered making an A330-200Lite, an A330 with updated engines and efficient aerodynamics, however, it could had been no match to Boeing’s supremely efficient 787. Thereby, Airbus scrapped this plan and focused on building a brand new jet liner, the A350. The A350-900 and A350-1000, however, competed against the 787-9 and 787-10 variants, and this left the 787-8 completely unchallenged! This posed a problem for Airbus.

In its initial design attempt to build the A330-200Lite, Airbus had already laid the groundwork for an aircraft that could fly upto 7-8 hours carrying upto 300 passengers, and they needed this very configuration to challenge the 787-8. While the A330neo and 787-8 match up similarly in terms of range and passenger capacity, the Airbus alternative is not even close to the Dreamliner in terms of efficiency, so how does the A330neo even stand up against the 787-8? Well, this is the beauty of Commercial Aviation, folks!

Air Mauritius A330-900(neo). Image Credits: Airbus

The Boeing 787 program was developed with a total cost of around $32b, whereas, the A330neo, being just an a update of the traditional A330, using most of its components and assembly lines, costed Airbus a mere $2b! While both aircraft have similar list prices (around $380m), Airbus can thus afford to provide their customers with more discounts and still make enough profit because of the lesser production and research cost of the A330neo.

So, the lesser cost to buy the A330neo is more than enough for  airlines to justify the long term losses in efficiency (had they opted for the Boeing 787). From 2010 to 2014, the Boeing 787 had gathered about 1000 orders. When the A330neo was introduced on 2014, the neo has gathered around 250 orders, while the 787 has added around 400 aircraft to that list. While the 787 still exceeds the A330neo in terms of orders, the A330neo has substantially affected the orders of the 787.

Considering the costs of both projects, the Airbus A330neo certainly is a game changer! What are your thoughts about the A330neo? Let us know in the comments!



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