TAP Portugal has become the first airline to take delivery of the A330neo family of aircraft after accepting A330-900 CS-TUB at Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse.
The official delivery ceremony for TAP Portugal’s first A330-900 – one of 21 the Portuguese flag carrier plans to operate – took place on November 26. The airline plans to deploy the aircraft on flights from Portugal to the Americas and Africa.
"Bom dia" from our Toulouse Delivery Centre where we see life in red and green as we're delivering the world's first #A330neo to @tapairportugal. The Portuguese national airline is set to operate 21 of these new generation aircraft. #TAP330neo pic.twitter.com/tgjwfD3bzg
— Airbus (@Airbus) November 26, 2018
A milestone delivery! @tapairportugal has received the first #A330-900 jetliner – which has unprecedented operational efficiency, a quiet #AirspaceByAirbus cabin and the lowest seat-mile cost in its category. Learn more: https://t.co/zf9C2pfOQs pic.twitter.com/vlrtTWyMoN
— Airbus (@Airbus) November 26, 2018
TAP Portugal chief executive Antonoaldo Neves said he was delighted to add the A330-900 to the airline’s fleet alongside other Airbus aircraft such as the A330, A340 and A320 family.
“The A330neo will give us a lot of operational flexibility thanks to its commonality with the other Airbus aircraft in our fleet,” Neves said in a statement.
“This aircraft will be the first equipped with the new Airspace cabin, which is a new concept shaped to meet TAP’s ambition to offer the best product in the industry to our passengers.”
TAP Portugal has configured its A330-900s with 34 business class seats, 96 economy plus seats and 168 economy class seats for a total of 298.
Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury said the handover of the first A330neo was an important milestone for the company.
“Through continuous innovations, the A330neo, our newest widebody aircraft, will offer maximum value and efficiency to our customers and superior comfort to their passengers. This occasion marks another step forward to meeting our industry’s goal for sustainable aviation,” Faury said in a statement.
Launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014, the A330neo is powered by new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and has a larger wing with “Sharklet” wingtips to reduce fuel consumption.
The type also features new composite nacelles, a fully faired titanium pylon and zero-splice air inlet technology.
The A330neo is also the launch aircraft for Airbus’s “AirSpace by Airbus” cabin concept which features larger overhead compartments, wider seats and aisles and new lighting, a “welcome area” and removal of the inflight entertainment box taking up legroom under the seat in front.
There are two A330neo variants – the A330-800 is the replacement for the A330-200, while the A330-900 is the replacement for the larger A330-300.
There is 95 per cent commonality between the A330neo and current A330 variants. It also shares a common pilot type rating with the Airbus A350 family.
The A330-200 has a typical range of 7,250nm when seating 247 passengers, according to the Airbus website, while the A330-800 will have a range of 8,150nm with 257 passengers in a three-class layout.
Meanwhile, the A330-300’s typical range is 6,350nm with a 277-passenger configuration, compared with 7,200nm for the A330-900 configured with 287 seats in three classes.
The airline’s first built aircraft, MSN1819, was used for route proving tests that included travelling to 15 cities across five continents while accumulating 150 flight test hours and undertaking function and reliability tests such as ETOPS missions, landing at diversion airports and testing airport handling services.
Airbus began flight tests of the A330-800 in early November. completing its maiden flight in Toulouse on Tuesday.
The A330-800 flight test campaign was expected to involve 300 flight hours, with certification expected in 2019, Airbus has said previously.
Aircalin the only A330neo customer in Oceania
Aircalin became the first (and still only) A330neo customer in Oceania in November 2016 when the New Caledonia-based airline put pen to paper for two A330-900s to replace its existing A330-200s.
In this part of the world, Fiji Airways and Qantas both operate the A330-200 and A330-300, while Aircalin and Virgin Australia have just the smaller A330-200.
Overall, Airbus has received 242 A330neo orders from 13 customers, as well as 14 orders from unidentified customers, as of October 31 2018, according to its website.
Of those, 234 are for the larger A330-900, with Kuwait Airways the only airline that has opted for the A330-800 after it signed a purchase agreement for eight of the type in October.
Hawaiian Airlines was previously an A330-800 customer. However it cancelled an order for six A330-800s in March in favour of operating the Boeing 787-9.
VIDEO: A look at the making of TAP Portugal’s first A330-900 from the Airbus YouTube channel.