The first Airbus A330neo has been delivered to TAP Air Portugal as part of the European manufacturer’s gamble that airlines will be attracted by the aircraft’s lower capital costs.
The leased A330-900 will be followed by 20 more in coming years and is configured with 298 seats in a three-class layout with 34 fully-flat business class seats, 96 economy plus seats and 168 economy seats.
Airbus has significantly redesigned the A330 to produce the neo, adding bigger, more efficient Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and boosting its aerodynamic performance with a new optimized wing and refined Sharklets.
It estimates these changes will result in a 25 percent reduction in fuel consumption compared to “older-generation competitor aircraft of a similar size”.
The new plane has a range of up to 7200nm (13,334km) with nominal seating of 287.
The manufacturer says it will also be quieter than its predecessors.
Customers include Avolon, the company that financed TAP’s plane, Delta Air Lines, AirAsia X, Garuda Indonesia and Kuwait Airways, which picked up A330-800neo aircraft originally destined for Hawaiian Airlines.
But sales of the aircraft have been soft since its launch four years ago with just 242 on firm order as of November this year.
The program received a boost earlier this month when Delta and Airbus confirmed the US carrier had added another 10 aircraft to its order. But Delta also deferred the delivery of some its A350-900s.
The TAP plane offers the new Airspace by Airbus cabin offers more personal space, larger overhead storage bins, advanced cabin lighting, and the latest inflight entertainment and connectivity.
“The A330neo will give us a lot of operational flexibility thanks to its commonality with the other Airbus aircraft in our fleet,’’ said TAP Air Portugal chief executive Antonoaldo Neves.
“This aircraft will be the first equipped with the new Airspace cabin, which is a new concept shaped to meet TAP’s ambition to offer the best product in the industry to our passengers.“
TAP operates an Airbus fleet of 72 aircraft made up of 18 A330s, 4 A340s,and 50 A320 family aircraft. The single-aisle fleet includes 22 A319ceo, 21 A320ceo and four A321ceo, one A320neo and two recently delivered A321neo jets.
Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury described the delivery as an important milestone for the company.
“Through continuous innovations, the A330neo, our newest widebody aircraft, will offer maximum value and efficiency to our customers and superior comfort to their passengers,’’ he said. “This occasion marks another step forward to meeting our industry’s goal for sustainable aviation.”.