Kuwait Airways’ New Airbus A330neo Fleet – What Do We Know?

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It was mid-October 2018 when Airbus announced that Kuwait Airways would be the next customer of the A330neo. The middle eastern carrier signed a Purchase Agreement (PA) for eight A330-800 aircraft with delivery expected to begin in 2019, according to the Airbus press release. Well, it’s now well past mid-2020, and the airline still hasn’t taken delivery of any of these new jets. So what do we know so far about this pending order?

While Kuwait Airways’ first Airbus A330-800neo has yet to arrive, at least there’s photographic evidence that it is being worked on. Photo: Airbus

“The A330-800 will seamlessly fit into our fleet expansion and growth plans. Its unbeatable operating economics and performance in addition to best in class passenger comfort make it a sound investment. We are confident that the A330-800 will support us to compete effectively on our expanding route network. Our relationship with Airbus extends beyond aircraft acquisitions and we look forward to further collaboration on technical fields.” -Yousef Al-Jassim, Chairman Kuwait Airways (2018)

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Delays with deliveries

We had reported several months ago that a recent expectation for this delivery was to be in March 2020. However, FlightGlobal had said that a factor affecting the timeline was achieving proper certification of the -800, which only took place in February 2020. To be more specific, it was on February 13th that the smallest A330neo variant received joint Type Certification from both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Our March update on the airline’s first A330-800 delivery noted that November was believed to be the new delivery date. On that same day, the airline released a video of the aircraft, stating that it was “getting ready for delivery at the Airbus factory.” With shots of a fully painted -800 rolling out of the hanger, it led some to suspect that delivery would take place in late Spring or sometime over the summer. This has not materialized.

The aircraft’s registration will eventually be 9K-APF. But this will only happen once it is delivered to Kuwait Airways. For now, its temporary (test) registration as a French aircraft is F-WWYU.

Summer activities

According to AIB Family Flights, there has been a little bit of activity over the summer for Kuwait Airways’ first A330-800. The jet was spotted at its current home (Airbus’ assembly facilities) in Toulouse, conducting a Taxi Check & RTO (rejected take-off) on June 24th.

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F-WWYU
The aircraft’s first flight was on June 26th, 2020. The jet departed and returned to Toulouse. Photo: FlightRadar24.com

Then, just two days later, it was reported taking its first flight out of Toulouse. AIB Family Flights reports that this was a three hour and 40-minute flight, eventually returning back to its origin.

Kuwait A330-800neo
Kuwait, Uganda, and Air Greenland are the only customers for the -800neo. Being the first of eight, Kuwait Airways’ A330-800 deliveries are scheduled to go through to 2026. Photo: Airbus

Also, in previous reporting, sources had indicated that the airline would configure the aircraft to have 226 seats, including 23 in the business-class cabin.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have too much new information on Kuwait Airways’ most modern widebody jet. The airline has not responded to our inquiries, and so we are unable to obtain any solid information directly from the most official source.

However, we at least know that it has taken its first flight and conducted several tests as recently as late June.

Do you think the A330-800 will ever make gains in popularity to match its bigger brother, the -900? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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