Airbus A330neo Vs Boeing 787-9 – Which Is Best?


Very recently, TAP Portugal took ownership of their new Airbus A330neo.

The A330neo in TAP Portugal Livery

Many don’t know that the A330neo was always been touted as the answer to the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner (With the Airbus A350 vs the Boeing 787-10 being the long range competition). First revealed at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow, the Airbus craft has had a few orders but nowhere near the amount that they have expected to beat the 787.

The new Boeing 787-9 for Air Tahiti Nui.

In fact, its this sale to TAP Portugal that Airbus hopes will inspire airlines to take up the A330neo.

Critics have been quick to point out that the 787 has been built on a whole new design whilst the A330 is based off a legacy design that is dire need of updating. The 787-9, of course, has found great success serving Qantas on their long-haul Perth to London route.

Which planes will we be comparing?

Now, there are plenty of versions of both the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A330neo. Specifically Boeing 787 -8, -9, -10 and Airbus A330 – 800, -900 (Both classed as neo).

As this graph below shows, they sort of leapfrog each other, with Airbus trying to beat Boeing’s offerings at each turn.


boeing 787 vs a330neo

We will be looking at the relationship between the A330-900 and the Boeing 787-9. The Airbus A330-800 has had very little orders (8 in five years!) and might be canceled outright, and the Boeing 787-10 is easily matched by the Airbus A350 (Which you can read here!).

Also, we will be looking at what makes the most sense from an Airline point of view, rather than what is more comfortable for passengers. The Airbus will be very quiet and the Boeing will have more room, but do these translate into dollar signs?

So which is better? Let’s find out.


Airbus A330neo vs Boeing 787-9

Boeing 787-9 Airbus A330neo
Cockpit crew Two Two
Seating 406 (1-Class) up to 290 (2-class) 420 (1-Class) up to 304 (2-Class)
Exit Limit (Total possible passengers) 420 Passengers 440 passengers
Length 206 ft 1 in (62.81 m) 63.66 m (208.9 ft)
Wingspan 197 ft 3 in (60.12 m) 64 m (210 ft) span
Wing area 4,058 sq ft (377 m2) 465 m2 (5,010 sq ft) area
Tail height 55 ft 10 in (17.02 m) 11.76 m (38 ft 7 in)
Cabin width 18 ft 0 in (5.49 m) 5.26m / 17ft 3in
Maximum takeoff weight 560,000 lb / 254,011 kg 251 t (553,000 lb)
Cruising Speed Mach 0.85 (488 kn; 903 km/h) Mach 0.86 (496 kn; 918 km/h)
Fuel capacity 33,384 US gal / 126,372 L 36,740 US gal / 139,090 L
Range 7,635 nmi (14,140 km) 7,200nmi / 13,334km


This is where most airlines will make their money, and its no excpetion in this case. The Airbus A330neo has listed a higher exit row than the Boeing, and can sit an extra 10 more passengers in a two class configuration.

Airbus A330neo
TAP Portugal seat layout on the Airbus A330neo

Winner: Airbus A330neo


Airbus vs Boeing
The dimensions of each craft compared side by side.

Both the two planes are roughly equal in size, but the Boeing 787-9 has a little more room inside width wise, but the A330neo is a little bit longer.


Fuel Efficiency and Range

This is where it gets really interesting. Because the Boeing 787 is made out of composite materials, and the A330neo is made out of the typical heavy metals in most plane production. We see this the relationship between fuel capacity and range, that the Boeing 787-9 has a bigger range with less fuel.

Winner: Boeing 787

How much does each plane cost?

Airbus has always prided itself on trying to out beat Boeing on price (thanks to their government subsidization) but it looks like in this scenario Airbus is unable to beat the production line already set up by Boeing.

  • Airbus A330neo US$296.4 million
  • Boeing 787-9 US$281.6 million

Winner: Boeing 787

Which plane is better?

This is a tough question, essentially, the Boeing 797-9 is cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate (far less fuel and better range). But the A330neo can fit more passengers on board and will be a close competitor on routes that are shorter than their maximum range.

What do you think? Which is the better aircraft?