The Airbus A330 vs The Boeing 777 – What Plane Is Better?


The Airbus A330 program was developed back in the late 80s as a new way to transport passengers long distances on only two engines. Boeing, sensing a change in the wind, wanted to get in on the action and develop their own two-engine long-haul aircraft.

Both were released within two years of each other, and are practically the same size. But which is better? Let’s find out. We will be looking at passengers, range, and how much an airline would expect to pay (and wether it would be worth the money!).

Airbus A330 vs Boeing 777. Source: Simple Flying

As we are looking a historic leapfrog type situation with Boeing trying to out do Airbus and so on and so forth, we should stress that Boeing was behind Airbus when it came to the launch of their aircraft, and thus would have had a few years more to beat the competition.

Again, it pains us to say this, but Simple Flying is not owned by Boeing or Airbus or any other aircraft manafacture. If you spot bias, do let us know and we will correct it.

The Airbus A330 vs The Boeing 777

Below is a outline of all the different types of Boeing 777 aircraft from our ‘777X vs 777-300ER‘ article:

TypeLengthSpanPassengers (3 class)Max passengersRangeList price
777-20063.73 m60.93 m3054405,240 nmiUS$261.5 M
777-200ER63.73 m60.93 m3054407,065 nmiUS$306.6M
777-200LR63.73 m64.80 m3014408,555 nmiUS$346.9M
777-30073.8660.93 m3685506,030 nmiUS$361.5M
777-300ER73.8664.80 m3655507,370 nmiUS$375.5M
777F63.73 m64.80 mn/an/a4,970 nmiUS$352.3M

And here is a brand new table highlighting the differences in the Airbus A330 family (and just for fun, like above, we have included the freight variant):

TypeLengthSpanPassengers (3 Class)Max PaxRangeList Price
A330-20058.82 m (192.98 ft)60.3 m (197.83 ft)2464067,250
A330-200F58.82 m (192.98 ft)60.3 m (197.83 ft)70,000 kg (154,324 lb)N/A4,000
A330-30063.67 m (208.89 ft)60.3 m (197.83 ft)3004406,350

As we can clearly see from the above charts, in terms of passengers the A330 family is the equivalent of the Boeing 777-200 series. In fact, this writer is awfully suspect of the fact that the Airbus A330-300 is listed as having an almost similar length as the Boeing 777-200. Thus it is easy to answer that the Boeing 777 series wins in the passenger department.

A United 777-200 comes in to land. United was the launch customer of this aircraft. Source: Wikimedia

Looking at range, the A330 family actually does very well against the Boeing 777 family. The A330-200 beats any first generation 777 series, and the A330-300 beats the Boeing 777-300. Its only when the extended range 777 versions come out that Airbus is left in the dust.

Air China Airbus A330-200. Source: Wikimedia

The real kicker is the price. Look at the price of the A330-300 ($264 million USD) vs the Boeing 777-300 ($361.5 million USD). Whilst we know that airlines don’t pay list value for aircraft, you have to wonder why airlines would pay $97 million more. After all, how much is an extra 68 passengers worth over a long run?

For those who want to know which aircraft was more fuel efficient. Source: Wikimedia

It’s tough to say which aircraft is better. The A330 family is smaller than the Boeing 777 series, but can almost compete on a level playing field. Beyond the first generation, the A330 no longer remains competitive and the tourch is handed over to Boeing.

Bonus: What about the A330neo vs The Boeing 777X?

Whilst these two aircraft are not strictly comparable (that would be best left for the Airbus A350 vs Boeing 777X which you can read about here), many readers have asked us to put them to the Simple Flying test. Let’s start with some statistics to outline the basics.

Airbus A330neoBoeing 777X
Cockpit crew2222
Exit Limit (Total possible passengers)406440Unknown475*
Length58.82 m (193.0 ft)63.66 m (208.9 ft)229 ft 0 in (69.8 m)251 ft 9 in (76.7 m)
Height17.39 m (57.1 ft)16.79 m (55.1 ft)64 ft 0 in (19.5 m)64 ft 7 in (19.7 m)
Width, cabin5.26m / 17ft 3in19.6 ft (5.96 m)
Cargo capacity136.0 m3 (4,800 cu ft)162.8 m3 (5,750 cu ft)Unknown8,131 cu ft (230.2 m3)
Fuel Capacity139,090 l (36,740 US gal), 111,272 kg (245,313 lb)350,410 lb (158,940 kg), 52,300 US gal (197,977 L)
Range8,150nmi / 15,094km7,200nmi / 13,334km8,690 nmi / 16,090 km7,525 nmi / 13,940 km

Now its important to understand that the 777X is simply a bigger plane. This means that the Boeing has better passenger capacity (coming close to double for the 777-9 vs -800neo), better cargo space (which can be very lucrative for these airlines) and they are far longer.

Airbus A330neo
TAP Portugal seat layout on the Airbus A330neo. Source: TAP Portugal

When it comes to range, we can see that the A330neo quickly jumps up. The A330neo-800 does a better range the 777-9 but is just beaten by the 777-8. Both versions of the A330neo seem to be just behind the Boeing 777X. This means that they could technically perform the same routes as these aircraft but lack the passenger capacity to make it worthwhile… or do they?

There is a common idea that a smaller aircraft is easier to make profitable; as the fewer seats you have to sell, the easier it is to break even. If the A330neo can provenly operate more effectively than the 777x on the same route, then that would be very interesting for airlines.

We will leave it up to you in the comments to decide which is your favorite.