***Update: 12/19/2019 @ 16:30 UTC: Added comment from Aer Lingus***
Aer Lingus, the IAG-owned Irish carrier, is the previously undisclosed purchaser of two Airbus A330-300 aircraft. An order for the two aircraft was placed last December, but analysis of the Airbus’ orders log has only recently revealed that the aircraft are for the Irish airline. Aer Lingus already had nine A330-300 on order.
A mystery solved
Last December, a mysterious order for two Airbus A330-300 was placed. The customer has remained undisclosed all year, but this week’s analysis of Airbus backlog figures has shown that the two previously unclaimed planes are for Irish airline Aer Lingus.
Aer Lingus had previously ordered nine aircraft. All nine were delivered by the end of October this year. However, the airlines confirmed order number has now risen to 11 and the two undisclosed aircraft have disappeared from Airbus’s list.
The carrier now has 10 A330’s in its fleet after another aircraft was delivered on 29 November.
So, the mystery has been solved. At least, the mystery of who the aircraft belong to has been solved. What is still a mystery is why Aer Lingus is increasing its number of A330-300’s when its competitors favor the A330neo.
A330-300 vs A330neo
Within the last year, we’ve seen a slew of airlines announce the retirement of their A330-300s. Etihad retired their final two A330-300’s in August of this year. TAP Air Portugal announced it planned to retire it’s A330-300’s in July of this year. Garuda Indonesia updated their order of seven A330-300s to A330neos way back in 2016. But why?
Well, according to Airbus, the A330neo range offers lower fuel consumption, lower maintenance costs and an extended flight range. This allows airlines to build a fleet for the future of operating on medium and long-haul routes. The fuel-saving benefits are particularly crucial at a time when many airlines this year have gone bust trying to tackle rising fuel costs.
Additionally, the A330neos offer more seats while reducing the cost per seat. When comparing the aircraft side by side, it’s a no brainer that the A330neo would be a better choice for an airline looking to invest in a sustainable fleet to future long-haul routes. But maybe Aer Lingus doesn’t want the A330neos because it isn’t looking for long-haul options.
Aer Lingus fleet plan
Apparently, that’s not the reason. In fact, Aer Lingus recently announced plans to increase its number of transatlantic flights and stated that its new A330-300’s would be helping the expansion plans. The airline will fly the Dublin-Orlando route six times per week, up from four. Similarly, flight to Miami will increase from two to three times a week and you’ll be able to fly from Ireland to Seattle seven times a week, up from five.
The new A330-300’s will also help the airline with routes to Los Angeles, Washington DC and Minneapolis St Paul. The Irish carrier is also replacing its Boeing 757s with new A321LRs to help operate the longer routes.
The airline will also operate new routes from Ireland to Paris, Barcelona, Sardinia and Brindisi in Puglia using A320 aircraft.
Although the airline has an order for 14 A321LRs to help operate some of the transatlantic routes, it still doesn’t fully explain why they have added two more A330-300s to its fleet. It is expecting record numbers of passengers for the summer 2020 season and with airlines going under left and right due to rising fuel costs, the two new A330-300s seem irrational.
In response to Simple Flying’s request for comment, Aer Lingus said “As part of Aer Lingus’ transatlantic growth strategy, the airline announced the order of two Airbus A330-300 aircraft in December 2018. The first of this order was received last month and will enter service next year. We expect the second aircraft to be delivered in February 2020 ahead of our busiest Summer season to date. Aer Lingus will operate a total of 11 Airbus A330-300 aircraft and 4 Airbus A330-200 aircraft in Summer 2020.”
So, the mystery hasn’t been completely answered. The airline did not provide a comment on why they have taken the A330s over the A330neo. Why do you think Aer Lingus choosing to expand their fleet of A330-300’s rather than investing in the more fuel-efficient A330neos? Let us know in the comments below.