Uganda Airlines To Take Second Rare Airbus A330-800 On Tuesday

Uganda Airlines is on track to receive its second Airbus A330-800neo next week. The airline was initially expecting delivery on January 25th, but an internet blackout in Uganda led to delays. Delivery of the seldom-seen A330-800neo has now been pushed back until February 2nd.

Airbus, A330-800, Kuwait Airways
Uganda Airlines is one of a small number of Airbus A330-800 customers. Photo: Airbus

Uganda Airlines expands its fleet

A delegation of officials from Uganda Airlines and the Uganda Aviation Authority will travel to France early next week to oversee the handover. Uganda Airlines placed an order for two A330-800neos in 2019 as part of its ambitious plans to expand beyond the continent. The airline received the first plane in December and will now welcome the second on Tuesday.

Uganda A330neo
Uganda Airlines took delivery of its first of two A330-800neos in December. Photo: Airbus

When the new A330-800neo arrives, Uganda Airlines will have a fleet of six aircraft – two A330s and four CRJ-900s. The A330 is in a three-class configuration – business, premium economy, and economy – with 20, 28, and 210 seats respectively. The cabin interior has already wowed the public and includes lie-flat business seats and ambient mood lighting.

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More long-haul flights on the horizon

The Airbus A330-800neo completely changes the game in terms of Uganda’s route options. After placing its order, Uganda Airlines announced plans for a bold push into the long-haul market, with destinations including London, Guangzhou, and Dubai under consideration. The airline is also looking to expand its continental services over the summer, with new routes including South Africa, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe in the works.

Uganda A330-800 routes
Uganda Airlines will fly beyond Africa for the first time in almost two decades. Photo: Uganda Airlines

While its CRJ-900 jets have a range of around 3,000km, the A330-800neo can fly over 15,000km and is one of the most economical aircraft in service today. This will give Uganda Airlines the tools it needs to compete with major international carriers serving Entebbe International Airport, which includes Emirates and Turkish Airlines.

The A330-800 around the world

For a variety of reasons, the A330-800neo hasn’t been picked up en masse by airlines. There have been just 14 orders for the A330-800neo, with the plane failing to receive any orders at all for the first four years. The majority of airlines invested in the A330-900neo instead – the larger variant which can carry more passengers. Compared to the three -800neos in service today, there are over 50 -900neos operated by major carriers including Delta and TAP.

Airbus A330-800neo Toulouse Getty
Only two airlines – Kuwait Airways and Uganda Airlines – currently operate the A330-800neo. Photo: Getty Images

The biggest customer for the -800 variant is Kuwait Airways, which has an order for eight planes and already has two in service. In November, Kuwait Airways became the first airline to operate the A330-800neo with Uganda Airlines coming a close second. Although the plane has failed to attract many orders so far, it may fare better after seeing more action through 2021.

What do you think of the A330-800neo? Why hasn’t it been picked up by more airlines thus far? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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