It’s been a year of major achievements for the twin-engine A330, which in 2013 has lived up to its motto as “the right aircraft, right now” with significant commercial milestones, a successful production ramp-up and introduction of a new version for domestic and regional passenger operations.
Among this flurry of activity was delivery of Airbus’ 1,000th A330 aircraft, received in July by Cathay Pacific Airways – which together with its sister airline Dragonair is the world’s largest A330 operator. Also during the year, the aircraft surpassed the 100-operator mark.
Speaking on the latter milestone, Airbus Head of Twin Aisle Marketing Crawford Hamilton said it was an achievement the company is extremely proud of. “We now have over 100 operators on a global scale, and that’s quite significant because the A330 is a widebody jetliner that is still ramping up production,” he explained. “It’s almost catching up to single-aisle aircraft programmes in terms of operator numbers, which is excellent.”
As of November 2013, total bookings for A330 Family aircraft – including the A330-200 and A330-300 commercial jetliners, along with the A330-200F freighter version – surpassed 1,285 from some 100 customers; while more than 1,020 aircraft had been delivered across the globe.
In April, Airbus successfully increased its A330 production rate from 9.5 aircraft per month – which already represented an industry record for widebody aircraft – to an even higher rate of 10 monthly. According to Hamilton, this acceleration allows Airbus to fulfill sustained market demand and ensures the company has A330s available when customers want them.
Hamilton said there is considerable interest in the optimised A330 Regional version – announced during September – which can help eliminate congestion in countries experiencing traffic growth. “The A330 began its in-service career on short-haul operations,” Hamilton added. “Since then, we have improved the structure, reliability, technology and cabin, but it can still return to these roots and show the same efficiency as on longer-haul operations.”
For the A330-200F, this freighter version currently is utilised by eight operators, including Qatar Airways and Etihad Crystal Cargo – both of which ordered additional aircraft during this week’s Dubai Airshow.