Will Air Greenland’s Order Save The Airbus A330-800neo?

Air Greenland recently bought a single A330-800neo, the very rare short version of the new A330neo series. With so many other airlines opting for the bigger A330-900neo, does this single Air Greenland order save the product line?

Air Greenland
The single Air Greenland A330-200 that is due to be replaced. Photo: Rene Schwietzke via Flickr

What is the difference between the two A330neos?

The A330neo series is the successor to the very popular A330 series. In fact, its essentially a new engine option upgrade much like the A320neo is to the A320. There is little changed to the aircraft aerodynamic design but does include a better engine, wing improvements, interiors, etc.

The differences between the two aircraft:

  • A330-800neo – 257 passengers to a range of 8,150nmi / 15,094 km
  • A330-900neo – 287 passengers to a range of 7,200nmi / 13,334 km

The -800neo is the successor to the A330-200 and the -900neo is the successor to the A330-300.

Whilst these aircraft look similar, their orders certainly are not. The A330-800neo has 14 orders and the bigger A330-900 has 323 orders. Airbus has attributed this difference to the fact that many airlines operating the A330-200 either choose to upgrade to the bigger version (why not go bigger) or their aircraft are still very new and they don’t need a new aircraft currently.

With sales so low, some industry commentators have suggested that Airbus should shut down the A330-800neo and convert their 14 orders over the bigger A330-900neo.

However, this new order from Air Greenland might actually have saved this from happening…

Air Greenland
Air Greenland has ordered a replacement A330-800neo. Photo: Airbus

Three reasons why the A330-800neo will continue

There are three reasons why the A330-800neo is saved thanks to the Air Greeland order.

Air Greenland can’t upgrade to the bigger A330-900neo as their runways cannot support it. It is also the reason why the airline went with the A330neo over the Boeing 787 as their runway take-off and stopping length is significantly different. Thus Airbus can’t just ask them to upgrade to the bigger version, and Air Greenland will be unable to find a different replacement aircraft elsewhere.

If Airbus had any intention to shut down production of the A330-800neo, they would not have let this order go ahead.

Additionally, if the A330-800neo is built in the same factory as the A330neo and doesn’t actually require any special production line to build. The aircraft can be constructed alongside its fellow big brothers and uses all of the same components.

Kuwait A330-800neo
Kuwait, Uganda, Greeland and one other buyer are the only customers for the A330-800neo. Photo: Airbus

Lastly, Airbus is counting on a mass retirement of A330-200 aircraft over the next ten years and needs to have its replacement ready in the wings (pun not intended). Currently, there are 640 A330-200s and 770 A330-300s operating around the world, many of which were built less than a decade ago and still have plenty of juice left.

With many potential orders on the way, and enough dripping through now for Airbus, they have seen no reason to change course.

“Considering the demand I see on the A330neo I see no need to cut production levels,” Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told Reuters on the sidelines of an Air Canada event in Montreal.

What do you think? Did the Air Greenland order help save the A330-800neo line?