Warming to the topic that $$$ are all that matters when airlines choose airliners, it’s noted that the latest 242 tonne version of the A330-200 could do non-stop flights both ways between Sydney and Los Angeles.
However its the same upgrade to the higher capacity A330-300, which misses out by a few minutes for such flights to LAX which is now coming together at Toulouse, but which makes the same point, that incremental improvements to established and reliable airliners can take them into territory never envisaged when they were first designed and built.
(At the start of the 747 era the aviation media was told the big Boeing would never fly one-stop between Australia and Europe, and that the 737 would not be a competitor to the trans continental capabilities of the 727.)
Airbus says the aircraft shown is completing its structural assembly before the cabin integration phase and will be used for certification flight trials. A second aircraft is being assembled in parallel which is destined for entry in service in Q2 2015 with launch customer for the new weight variant, Delta Air Lines.
There is however more to this. The 242 tonne versions precede the re-engined A330NEOs which have not only simplified the all new A350 line by (unofficially) killing off the unloved A350-800 but given Airbus a competitor to Boeing’s 787 Dreamliners over range-payload stages not covered by this particular upgrade of the classic A330s.
Airbus claims a six percent per seat operating cost advantage for the 242 tonne version of the A330 compared to the 787-9. Which sets the scene for even bigger savings claims for the A330 NEO due in 2017, not to mention yet another statistical brawl with Boeing.
The only reasonable thing an onlooker can say is that the winner in individual sales contests will be the jet which has the right combination of acquisition costs, reliability, and fuel burn across carrier X’s intended range-payload applications.
This particular version of the A330 would be vulnerable to Boeing making price cuts it can’t afford because it has hocked its balls to the massive cost overruns of the Dreamliners, where Airbus can afford to do deals on a line that has long repaid its original investments. It takes its improvements from the refinements listed in the infographic at the bottom of the page.
Also overnight, Airbus signed an MoU with the China Aircraft Leasing Company for 100 A320 Family aircraft. The commitment comprises 74 A320neo, 16 A320ceo and 10 A321ceo.
Later today Boeing will be in Sydney to update its 20 year rolling market forecast and analysis for Australia, which should be of absorbing interest to the Qantas and Virgin Australia camps, who struggle to predict what will happen in the next two years at the best of times.