Airbus Secures 4 Orders For The Rare A330-800neo

Airbus has secured a surprising order for four more Airbus A330-800neos, the smaller and significantly less popular version of the A330neo series. In fact, this order represents an increase of 40% of all orders, from 10 to 14 in total.

A330-800 take off
The A330-800neo is still looking for its place in the market. Photo: Airbus Press Release, 2018.

What are the details of this surprise order?

Airbus has not revealed who the buyer is for these A330neo aircraft, only that they have four more to build as soon as the mainline production of the type begins. 

Currently, of the 10 orders, we do know is that eight are due for the launch airline Kuwait Airways and two are for Uganda Airlines. It is likely that this new order for four more aircraft will be from an airline that has a small fleet and is looking to expand out into the A330neo space.


But that category of airline is actually narrower than appears once you look at the popularity issues around the type.


Why is the A330neo unpopular?

There are two types of A330neo aircraft.

  • The A330-800 can carry up to 406 passengers (typically 257) to a range 8,150nmi / 15,094 km. This aircraft is weighted towards range and distance.
  • The A330-900, as the big brother, can carry up to 440 passengers (average 287 in a three-class layout) to a range of 7,200nmi / 13,334 km. This aircraft is weighted towards passengers.

They are designed to be ‘neo’ versions of the A330-200 and A330-300 much like the A320neo is to the A320.


To say they are unpopular is a bit deceptive, as the A330-900 actually has 285 orders so far in stark contracts to the A330-800 with 14. Rather, its the market conditions around the aircraft that make the sales slow.

Kuwait A330-800neo. Photo: Airbus

As mentioned by Airbus at the Hi-Fly event, there are two major reasons why airlines have been slow to buy the A330-800. The first is that there are still plenty of young A330-200s on the market that airlines don’t need to replace (some under 10 years old). Secondly, there is a vast second-hand market of A330s (a side effect of building such a well-selling series) which means airlines don’t really need to order new right now. Airbus is confident that sales will increase soon.

A330-800 certification
On paper, it’s a great aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Who ordered the A330-800?

If there is a large number of A330-200s on the market, and most are young and cheaper than the A330-800 at list prices, why would an airline consider the A330-800 in the first place?

The mystery deepens especially when there is an arguably better A330-900 also available.

If we were to hazard a guess, we would suggest that this airline is a government flag carrier Central Asia (like for example Kazakhstan) with a vast country suited for long routes. They need a widebody that can go the distance, carry plentiful passengers and yet for political/economic reasons has chosen not to go with the more effective Boeing 787 (which offered cheaper fuel burn per seat).

Or perhaps it is an airline from the Pacific who is looking to match Fiji Airways with their cross pacific travel. The A330-800 is only useful for very very specific routes and we can’t wait to find out who it might be.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.


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The A330 production lines are thoroughly amortized, and the NEO upgrade only cost 2 billion euros in development costs; accordingly, Airbus can offer a relatively steep discount on this plane and still make a good profit. For some airlines — particularly those that are planning on using a dense seating configuration — a low initial capital outlay may be more attractive than protracted savings due to lower fuel costs.

Farhan Nazar

Uganda airlines relaunch is not "planned" anymore, it has already happened. They're currently operating 4 CRJ-900 to destinations around central and east Africa.

Nasir Israr

Uganda Airlines should start long haul with the A321XLR instead of the A330-800neo as it is cheaper and smaller. The A321XLR is small and will be easier for them to fill than the A330-800neo.


The A321XLR isn’t available for at least three years if you can get a delivery slot, realistically 2024 or even later
The A330-800 will be available in maybe late 2020 or probably early 2021


It could be Rwandair maybe? An airline with a small fleet with already an A330-200 and A330-300.

Niklas Andersson


Tj H

Is it possible these could be orders for government planes? The reason I ask is because the Canadian Air Force has 4 modified A310s that are in need of replacement. There’s been talk lately about replacing them as they are becoming more and more unreliable, and also have a limited range.


These Canadian Air Force A310 / CC-150 Polaris are boom equipped tankers.
This order is certainly not a stealth launch of a “KC-38” tanker version of the A330-800neo, so it is not the RCAF

Moaz Abid

I am surprised Qantas hasn’t ordered 330neo aircraft. They could use it for project sunrise with a little seat reduction like singapore

Nate Dogg

What 20 seats…of which half are crew seats? Lol. If it was viable they would mentioned it. Very unlikely that it would be.

Dane Gubb

It might be Garuda Indonesia because they signed a letter of intent 4 four A330-800s. They could have now firmed those 4 orders. I could be wrong.

Farhan Nazar

And they maybe told airbus to not disclosed it because of the embarassing affairs they’re having currently?

Interesting possibility I have to admit

Milton Anguyo

I tend to go with this narrative.The carrier (Garuda Indonesia) has reportedly disclosed the tentative agreement, which was signed on 17 June 2019, in its second quarter financial statements.

Arshad Shaikh

The aircraft carrier who ordered this plane is indigo because they are very keen to expand in this category. As indigo fly to Istanbul using their A320 neos but with half of its capacity due to western winds that affects aircraft performance. Thus these weather effects leads indigo to buy widebody jets so as to get maximum profit from its routes and in near future they are going to operate to Japan and South Korea. I hope i answered the question.


Interesting answer. Could be. But it does raise the question: why only four? If they wanted to increase capacity and profit, it would make sense to buy more than just four. Could be wrong, though.


I was wondering why Boeing and Airbus offer very similar planes in their own offers … A330neo is definitely up to A350 …. Boeing makes his own 777 bad by placing the 787 in the market (they’re all fine, flew with any of them lately), so as passenger i don’t really care much … Flew 787 with Royal Jordanian and A330 with AirAsiaX to New Delhi, A350 from Addis to Dubai … same time the A321 made impressive improvements, now featuring toilets in the middle of the plane, single entertainment etc (just had a trip with Philippine airlines) … and… Read more »


Still very much a product of 1994.


Correct, but in the same way as 737 is 60’s product…


The A330-800 is a great plane and would be good for long range thin passenger traffic


Air Greenland just confirmed that they just placed an order of one a330-800neo that will be delivered 2021
Looking forward to travel with it 🙂