We asked the question earlier this year: When will Kuwait Airways receive its first Airbus A330-800neo? Well, it seems we finally have an answer to the question. According to FlightGlobal, it appears that the Middle Eastern carrier is set to take delivery of its first -800 in the third quarter of this year.
Over two years of waiting
In what is considered a reasonable wait time for a brand new commercial aircraft, Kuwait Airways placed its order for eight A330-800s in September of 2018. While no specific date has been disclosed, The Kuwait Times, as well as other sources, are reporting that this first delivery will happen sometime in the third quarter of 2020.
The original, expectation for this delivery was to be this month. However, FlightGlobal reports that one factor affecting the timeline was the certification of the -800, which recently took place last month. The smallest A330neo variant received joint Type Certification from both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 13 February.
Sources also indicate that the airline will configure the aircraft to have 226 seats including 23 in the business-class cabin. With a newly released image of the first aircraft being painted at the Airbus facilities, we can see that it will have the registration 9K-APF. Being the first of eight, the airline’s A330-800 deliveries are scheduled to go through to 2026.
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لقطات لأول طائرة A330-800 مملوكة للخطوط الجوية الكويتية يتم تحضيرها حالياً للتسليم في مصنع الإيرباص . Highlights of the first fully owned aircraft by Kuwait Airways, the A330-800, is getting ready for delivery, at the Airbus factory . #أكيد_نقدر #الكويتية #الطائر_الأزرق #kuwait #kuwaitairways #sure_we_can
A rare bird
We may find that the word ‘rare’ always precedes any article discussing the A330-800. That’s because so few airlines have actually ordered the shorter A330neo variant. In fact, at the time of writing, there are only three airlines confirmed to have ordered the widebody jet. The airlines are:
- Kuwait Airways (8)
- Uganda Airlines (2)
- Air Greenland (1)
Making a total of 11 -800s, this pales in comparison to the 300+ orders for its bigger brother, the -900.
Why the -800?
The A330-800 has two big differences from the -900: capacity and range. It has the ability to carry up to 406 passengers, however, typically this is closer to 257. The range of this variant is 15,094 km. This is contrasted with the A330-900, which can carry up to 440 passengers (average 287 in a three-class layout) to a range of 13,334 km.
However, in addition to having a greater range, there’s another factor that the -800 has over its big brother: it can land on smaller runways. In fact, the -800 has one of the shortest runway requirements out of all the new generation aircraft (A350, 787, A330neo, 777X) and thus why it was chosen by Air Greenland with the limits of its main airport, Kangerlussuaq.
As for Kuwait Airways’ decision for choosing the -800 over the larger -900, we imagine they preferred having a lower price tag for the smaller aircraft. The -800 has a similar range to the A350-900 but would cost less. The lower capacity of the aircraft isn’t a huge problem for the airline as it already has a solid fleet of 777s and a pending delivery of A350s.
Do you think airlines will be satisfied with the -800? Or will they be wishing they had gone for the larger -900 for more capacity? Let us know what you think in the comments!