Aircalin has become the second airline to fly the Airbus A330neo to Australia.
The New Caledonia-based carrier’s first Australian service with its A330-900 was the SB140 from Noumea on Friday August 16, which touched down in Sydney a little before 1130.
The aircraft, F-ONEO, was on the ground for about an hour and 40 minutes before operating the reciprocal SB141 back to Noumea.
Aircalin took delivery of F-ONEO, one of two A330-900s it has on order, at the end of July. A second A330-900 was due for delivery in the September-October timeframe, Aircalin said in a statement on Friday.
The airline’s A330-900s feature 291 seats, comprising 26 in business with direct aisle access for each passenger, 21 in premium economy at seven abreast and 244 in economy in a 2-4-2 layout. They were expected to replace two existing A330-200s in the fleet, which have 25 fewer seats and do not have premium economy.
Aircalin said the A330-900 would be scheduled on the Sydney route for one flight a week, usually on Fridays. From October it will be used on Tuesdays and Fridays. The A330-900 was also being deployed to destinations in Japan and the Pacific Islands from Aircalin’s Noumea hub.
“The purchase of the A330neos will enable Aircalin to have modern efficient aircraft, providing the best travel conditions to Aircalin’s customers,” Aircalin chief executive Didier Tappero said.
“With determinedly New Caledonia-style cabins and colours, our aircrafts will proudly display New Caledonia’s colours across the Pacific.”
In July, Air Mauritius became the first airline to fly the Airbus A330-900 to Australia.
The inaugural service, operated by 3B-NBV, touched down at Perth Airport as flight MK440 a little after 0900 on July 24, following its six and a half hour journey from Mauritius Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam International Airport.
Prior to the equipment change, Air Mauritius had been serving Perth with A330-200s. Perth Airport said in a statement on July 24 all of Air Mauritius’ flights to Perth were expected to be switched over to the A330-900 by early 2020.
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.
VIDEO: A look at the making of Aircalin’s first A330-900 from the Airbus YouTube channel.