Hi Fly’s Newest A330neo To Be Leased To An Asian Flag Carrier

Yesterday Simple Flying covered the unboxing reveal of the brand new Hi-Fly A330neo. But many have commentated and asked, where is the aircraft going, and where can you fly it next? Let’s explore what we know and the rumors that we have heard.

Hi Fly
Hi Fly accepts the new A330neo. Photo: Simple Flying

What is the A330neo like?

First of all, we should discuss why the new Hi Fly A330neo is so special from a business perspective. The new A330neo seats 371 passengers with 18 in business and 353 in economy. This middle of the road density is perfect for airlines who need to transport around 350 passengers on a route of 6-8 hours. The two-class configuration is an additional perk and allows the airline to continue to serve its premium customers.

This means that Hi Fly is spoilt for choice when it comes to possible clients. Like with their Airbus A380, the A330neo is flexible enough to be hired out to low-cost-carriers like Norwegian (imagine buying premium economy and finding yourself in a first-class seat!) and also serve important government agencies.

“Each customer wants their own specification, if we ask carrier A what was the ideal configuration it would be different from B, C, D etc” Hi Fly President Paulo Mirpuri speaking at the Airbus A330neo handover ceremony regarding how they chose to configure the aircraft “We cannot change the configuration all the time. We thought the A330 on this configuration would not serve all clientele, but a significant number of them”

If you haven’t seen the original unboxing video, you can check it out here.

But the real question is, who has hired the new A330neo and where will it be flying next?

Where is it now?

Yesterday afternoon, after the Airbus Hi Fly handover ceremony, the brand new A330neo flew to Beja, Portugal to be assed by Hi Fly. Speaking to media at the handover ceremony yesterday, Mirpuri mentioned that they wanted a few weeks with the aircraft to train, understand its capabilities and also get it correctly certified.

But once they are confident with the aircraft, they plan to send it to their first client. Who might it be? Well here are the clues.

“The first carrier that you will learn very soon, it is a flag carrier, operates high spec aircraft and accepted this aircraft configuration very well.” Mirpuri mentioned, “The aircraft is being sent to the Far East”.

Simple Flying
The economy section of the A330neo in a 3-3-3 configuration. Photo: Simple Flying

Who are the possible airlines?

We know the following about the airline:

  • Premium aircraft
  • Flag carrier
  • Located in the Far East

This actually narrows down the aircraft quite significantly, as there are not as many flag carriers as there are airlines. Here are the top contenders in that region that might be interested:

  • Japan Airlines (JAL)
  • Air China
  • Korean Air
  • Cathay Pacific

Air China has plenty of capacity, but it doesn’t make sense that they would need to rent an A330neo with the number of A330s they operate (unless they wanted to trial the new version, see below). Likewise with Korean Air.

The business class seat. Photo: Simple Flying

My money would be on JAL or Cathay Pacific.

JAL recently took ownership of two A350s and have another two on order. What better way to ‘try before you buy’ than letting them fly the Hi Fly A330neo to see if it works for them? It might even turn out that Airbus has paid for the lease themselves!

JAL has an aging fleet of 777s and 767s, and Cathay have plenty of old A330s that need to be replaced and it could be that Airbus is champing at the bit.

Cathay Pacific currently operates 30 A330-300s. Photo: N509FZ via Wikimedia

What do you think of our theories? Will you be hunting down the A330neo? Let us know in the comments.