Air Belgium Takes Delivery Of Its 1st A330neo To Replace A340s

Airbus today delivered the first of two Airbus A330-900 aircraft to go to Brussels-based carrier Air Belgium. The airline is taking two of the latest generation neo aircraft as it looks to replace some of its inefficient quadjet A340 aircraft.

Air Belgium, Airbus A330neo, Delivery
Air Belgium has taken delivery of its first Airbus A330neo. Photo: Airbus

It is always an exciting time when an airline takes delivery of a new aircraft type. However, Air Belgium’s A330neo delivery is especially exciting. Not only is it the first time that the airline is taking delivery of ‘new’ aircraft, but these aircraft also have a somewhat colorful history. The aircraft is expected to enter service later this month.

Air Belgium’s first new aircraft

Today Airbus delivered Air Belgium’s first new aircraft. The jet is the relatively new A330-900 from the manufacturer’s new engine option (neo) family. The aircraft, OO-ABG, was actually intended to go to another ‘AB’ airline. Air Berlin made the order for the aircraft with serial number 1861 before its collapse.

According to data from AIB Family, the aircraft’s fuselage was first spotted in March 2018, meaning that the fuselage is already three years and seven months old. With the collapse of Air Berlin, this aircraft became a white tail.

Air Belgium, Airbus A330neo, Livery
The aircraft will be used to replace the airline’s A340 fleet. Photo:
Clément Alloing

It had seemed that Airbus had managed to sell it when the aircraft appeared in a complete Rwandair paint job. However, the African airline ditched ambitions for both the A330 and the Boeing 737 MAX simultaneously.

Thus, the aircraft once again became a white tail. In early July, Air Belgium was confirmed as the firm customer of the jet, leading to Airbus eliminating its backlog of white tail aircraft. OO-ABG first flew on July 21st, 2021, meaning that the jet’s actual age is 0.2 years.

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What to expect from the A330neo

According to Airbus, Air Belgium’s A330neo aircraft have a three-cabin configuration like the airline’s A340-300 jets. At the front of the cabin, passengers will find 30 lie-flat business class seats. Behind this are 21 premium economy seats, with another 235 economy seats at the aircraft’s rear. This gives a total passenger capacity of 286. Air Belgium intends to replace its Airbus A340-300 aircraft with these A330neo aircraft directly. This will prove to be a real boon to the airline, both financially and environmentally.

With just two engines, the A330 already used way less fuel than the A340. However, the neo is also more efficient than older A330 aircraft by about 25% per seat. Using less fuel means that the airline can cut its operating costs, but it also means that its emissions will drop.

Air Belgium, Airbus A330neo, Delivery
Air Belgium’s A330neo is expected to enter service next week. Photo: Airbus

Air Belgium is expected to start flying the jet in passenger service next Friday on October 15th. The plane is planned to fly to Mauritius twice a week on Tuesdays and Fridays.

What do you make of Air Belgium’s first new aircraft delivery? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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