Earlier this week, Simple Flying was invited to attend the Hi Fly hand-over ceremony for their new Airbus A330neo at the Airbus factory in Toulouse. But what is it actually like to go to the factory and what does the ceremony entail? Read on to find out.
After arriving in Toulouse, media was collated together and given a briefing on how the visit would go. Media were instructed that whilst we could take photos and films of everything during the visit, we could not film aircraft that had yet to be delivered to their clients. So for example, if a shiny Airbus A350 in British Airways livery was to roll around the corner on a test flight (and believe me there was plenty of fan favorites seen on the day), we were not allowed to film it.
As it turns out, media being allowed to take photos of planes, or even go onboard planes, was subject to the airlines themselves, not Airbus. Simple Flying was here at the factory at the pleasure of Hi Fly.
We then proceeded to get security badges (an instant collectible item) and taken to the media and press room.
First press event
The first event was started by the head of marketing for the A330neo, who talked us through the Airbus design philosophy and why the A330neo was such a fantastic aircraft.
“What we are looking to have is a perfect portfolio of aircraft that can suit any customers needs”
The A330neo is designed to be the replacement aircraft for the A330 series, as well as those airlines with aging 777 aircraft and the Boeing 767. It has the advantage of having 99% commonality with the A330ceo range so pilots don’t have to retrain. There are two variants, the smaller A330neo-800 and the bigger and much better selling A330neo-900.
On the poor sales of the A330neo-800, Airbus had this to say:
“What is interesting is that we thought that the A330-200 would sell significantly less than the A330-300, and when we launched it we had quite a big success. We will follow that success [with the A330neo-800] but that current fleet [of A330-200s to replace] is only around 10 years old, people are not looking to replace it yet”
“There is also a significant second-hand market [of A330s] as well” he added
Introduction to Hi Fly
After Airbus spoke to the press, Hi Fly President Paulo Mirpuri spoke to the press about the new aircraft.
“The acquisition of the A330neo aircraft is a significant step forward for Hi Fly. We are in the vanguard of those who have taken delivery of the new aircraft and we are happy to be able to offer these latest airliners to our customers. Also, the addition of the A330neo to the Hi Fly Fleet leaves us operating the youngest, cleanest fleet in our history.”
He also took questions, the first about the choice in livery (trying to find a balance between looking like a corporate jet and an airline, a mix of their customers). An additional question was about the future of the A380 in their fleet (which you can read here).
After the press event, we were lead to the main hall to witness the handover of the ‘keys’ of the aircraft. There were four short speeches from Airbus, Air Lease Corporation (ALC, who funded and own the aircraft they are leasing to Hi Fly), Hi Fly and Rolls Royce.
“We were the launch customer of the A330neo-900 at the Farnborough Air Show, and this A330neo represents the seventh delivery from that order stream” spoke ALC at the ceremony “That is a real testament to the A330neo-900, that the first airplane that ALC is delivering to Hi Fly is a new aircraft. For an operator like Hi Fly who leases to other airlines, to be convinced in the economics in the airplane to the extent that they will take a new aircraft … its truly remarkable.”
A film was played that showed the creation of the A330neo and its journey into the hands of Hi Fly. You can watch it below (It’s a great video and well worth your time).
Gifts were exchanged, and then the whole party retired for a long lunch (one of the perks of covering an event like this).
The aircraft visit
Following lunch, the entire group was transported in a fleet of cars across Toulouse to the Airbus Aircraft Delivery Center. This vast semicircle single aircraft terminal felt like the fanciest private airport you could imagine. They had big banners of the Hi Fly logo handing from the ceiling and a long red carpet.
After witnessing the plane itself sitting at the gate, the press was finally invited inside and given a tour of the aircraft. For our actual thoughts of what the aircraft was like, check out our review here.
Lastly, we were given a small goodie bag to remember our trip.
What do you think? Do you want to come along next time with Simple Flying? Let us know in the comments.