New Caledonian carrier Aircalin has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320neo. The airline is set to add to its small fleet of modern Airbus planes, which includes two new A330neos. The A320neo will offer improved fuel-efficiency and range and will likely take over operations from Aircalin’s aging A320-200 fleet.
Aircalin takes delivery of its first A320neo
An Airbus press release seen by Simple Flying has announced that Aircalin has taken delivery of its new A320neo. The plane bolsters Aircalin’s small fleet of four Airbus aircraft, with the carrier taking significant strides towards establishing a modern and efficient fleet.
Aircalin has named its new A320neo ‘Tibarama’ in keeping with its tradition of naming its own planes. Tibarama is an island in New Caledonia – its other named planes are called ‘Luengöni’ and ‘Kanuméra’ after beaches in the country.
Aircalin operates several flights around the Pacific region out of its hub at La Tontouta International Airport in New Caledonia. With its latest acquisition, the airline stands to benefit from major improvements in range and fuel consumption. According to Airbus,
“… with the A320neo, Aircalin will be able to increase capacity on its flights and open new routes across the Pacific region.”
Aircalin moves towards modernizing its fleet
The A320neo (registration F-OTIB) has two Pratt & Whitney PW1000 engines and was finalized at Airbus’ Toulouse production site. With a single-class arrangement of 168 seats, the aircraft joins Aircalin’s all-Airbus fleet of five planes – three A320s and two A330s.
The airline’s other two A320s are aging, with Aircalin keen to modernize its fleet by investing in new aircraft. According to Planespotters.net, both planes are on lease and have an average age approaching 15 years.
The brand-new A320neo is the latest addition to Aircalin’s modern fleet after the airline bought two new A330’s last year. The carrier began phasing out A330-200 flights last year as it integrated its brand-new A330-900’s into operations.
The airline has had a few issues with its planes
Despite investing in some of the best planes on the market, Aircalin has had a couple of concerning experiences with its Airbus planes. Earlier this month, one of its A330neo’s suffered a flap malfunction as it approached Tokyo Narita International Airport. The plane (registration F-ONET) was forced to land at a faster speed and remained grounded for over a day as repairs were carried out.
The same aircraft also had some trouble last year after “suspicious odors of oil in the cabin” led to the plane being grounded. After a month of service, the plane had to be inspected by experts from Rolls-Royce and Airbus due to the strong odor. Allegedly, some cabin crew also experienced side-effects such as eye irritation, headaches, and respiratory problems. The aircraft was returned to Airbus for over 6 weeks before it re-entered into service.
Do you believe the A320neo is worth the investment? Let us know in the comments.