Air Mauritius has become the first airline to fly the Airbus A330-900 to Australia.
The inaugural service with the next generation Airbus widebody, operated by 3B-NBV, touched down at Perth Airport as flight MK440 a little after 0900 on Wednesday, following its six and a half hour journey from Mauritius Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
The A330-900 received an Airservices Aviation Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) monitor cross while taxiing to the terminal after landing.
After about four hours on the ground, the aircraft took off as the reciprocal MK441 at about 1300 bound for Mauritius.
Prior to Wednesday’s inaugural A330-900 flight, Air Mauritius had been serving Perth with A330-200s.
— Perth Airport (@PerthAirport) July 24, 2019
Perth Airport said in a statement on Wednesday all of Air Mauritius’ services to Perth were expected to be switched over to the A330-900 by early 2020.
“The A330-900NEO is Airbus’s latest generation aircraft and Air Mauritius’ decision to utilise it on this route strengthens its commitment to the Perth market and will undoubtedly enhance the customer experience on the route,” Perth Airport chief corporate services officer Debra Blaskett said in a statement.
“This is a quality aircraft being operated by a top airline and provides West Australians with a great connection to the beautiful island nation of Mauritius.”
Air Mauritius has configured its A330-900s with 288 seats comprising 28 in business class in a 1-2-1 layout and 260 in economy class at eight abreast.
The change of aircraft represented a small capacity increase from the A330-200, which had 18 seats in business and 255 seats in economy for a total of 273.
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.
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. The airline was expected to take delivery of its first A330-900 later in 2019.
Another potential A330-900 operator to Australia was Thai AirAsia X, which recently started nonstop flights from Bangkok Don Mueang to Brisbane and will soon commence operations with the aircraft.
VIDEO: A look at the assembly of Air Mauritius’s first Airbus A330-900 from the airline’s YouTube channel.