Lion Air has received its first Airbus A330-900neo. This marks a major advancement for the airline as it expands into new long-haul markets. The Indonesian carrier intends to use the A330neos to reach new destinations in the Middle East from Indonesia.
Lion Air’s A330-900neo
Lion Air is a low-cost carrier in Indonesia. Unlike AirAsia, Lion Air’s widebodies are configured in a single-class layout, but are not as dense as some A330-900neos. The aircraft will seat 436 passengers in an all-economy configuration. Lion Air’s A330-900neo is the first of 10 that will fly for the carrier.
This delivery represents a milestone for Airbus, as Lion Air is the first Asia-Pacific carrier to fly the A330neo. Airbus is eyeing this market for widebody orders and carriers may look at Lion Air to decide if they would also find this model useful.
Replacing the 747-400
Lion Air recently retired their Boeing 747-400 aircraft. This monstrous aircraft, nicknamed the Queen of the Skies, simply could not beat the efficiency and comfort of a modern Airbus A330neo. Thus, Lion Air retired their last Boeing 747-400 before taking delivery of their first A330-900.
Where will Lion Air fly the A330neos?
The A330-900neo will give Lion Air additional opportunities that the Boeing 747 could not. With better operating economics, the carrier intends to use the A330neo on route expansion with nonstop pilgrimage flights. Some potential routes, as listed by Lion Air, include Makassar to Madinah, Balikpapan to Jeddah, Surabaya to Madinah, and Solo to Jeddah.
These routes, however, can be as long as 12 hours. Whether or not passengers would want to spend 12 hours in a low-cost long-haul aircraft is a different story. However, price-sensitive passengers will likely appreciate Lion Air’s additional flights to Jeddah and Madinah.
For Lion Air, the A330neo made sense. The aircraft’s operating economics, passenger count, and familiarity with the family made it the right aircraft for this carrier. Currently, Lion Air already operates Airbus A330-300 aircraft. These are denser than their A330-900neo with 440 passengers in a single-class configuration.
While the A330-900neo will primarily operate long-haul flights, they may also appear on some high-demand domestic and short-haul routes. Lion Air may also choose to use the A330-300s on more short-haul routes and save the long-haul routes for the more fuel-efficient A330-900neo.
In choosing their long-haul widebody aircraft, Lion Air selected Airbus over Boeing. Lion Air is a major Boeing customer, particularly in terms of the 737 MAX. However, Lion Air likely got a better offering from Airbus compared to Boeing’s 787 line of aircraft.
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