New Caledonia-based Aircalin has become the first airline in Oceania to take delivery of the Airbus A330neo family of aircraft with the first of two A330-900s on the way to to Noumea.
The delivery ceremony for Aircalin’s first A330-900 F-ONEO was held at Airbus’s Toulouse headquarters on Tuesday (European time) featuring Aircalin director Didier Tappero, Airbus executive vice president for programmes and services Philippe Mhun and Rolls Royce senior vice president Christophe Molus along with invited guests and media.
Aircalin placed an order for two A330-900s in November 2016. The aircraft were earmarked to replace the airline’s two A330-200s. It is so far the only airline in Oceania to order the A330neo family of aircraft.
Aircalin has configured its A330-900s with 291 seats in a three-class configuration comprising 26 in business with direct aisle access for every passenger in a staggered layout, 21 in premium economy with seven seats per row and 244 in economy at eight abreast. The A330-900 has 25 more seats that its two-class A330-200s which do not have premium economy.
The aircraft will serve destinations in Australia, Japan and the Pacific Islands from Aircalin’s Noumea hub.
Airbus said in a statement Aircalin was expected to receive its second A330-900 later in 2019.
Aircalin’s second A330neo, due for delivery in September, is in final assembly in Toulouse.
(Yes, it’s “Airhug” in French. No, it’s not originally that: it’s short for Air Caledonie International!) pic.twitter.com/iz1caskvSp
— John Walton 🏳️🌈 ✈️ 💺 (@thatjohn) July 30, 2019
Launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014, the A330neo features new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and a larger wing with “Sharklet” wingtips to reduce fuel consumption.
The type 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 currently flown by Fiji Airways, Qantas and Virgin Australia in this part of the world, while the A330-900 is the replacement for the larger A330-300.
Qantas and Fiji Airways also operate the larger A330-300.
There is 95 per cent commonality between the A330neo and current A330 variants.
The A330-200 has a typical range of 7,250nm when configured with 247 passengers, according to the Airbus website, while the A330-800 will have a range of 7,500nm 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 6,550nm for the A330-900 configured with 287 seats in three classes.
Aircalin is also replacing its two A320ceos with A320neo aircraft.
VIDEO: A look at the making of Aircalin’s first A330-900 from the Airbus YouTube channel.