The Middle East will continue to be an important market for Airbus’ A330 jetliner in the years ahead, as more and more customers are won over by the widebody aircraft’s unbeatable economics, reliability, passenger appeal and cargo-carrying capability.
Currently, more than 95 A330-200 and A330-300 passenger versions are operated by Middle East-based operators, including: Etihad Airways, Oman Air, Qatar Airways, Gulf Air, Emirates, Iraqi Airways, Jordan Aviation, Middle East Airlines, Royal Jordanian Airlines and Yemenia Airways.
The strategy of Middle East airlines to lead in on-board passenger service innovation has resulted in A330s’ use as a launch platform for such new technologies as on-board Internet and on-board mobile phone operation.
Cargo airlift is important as well in this geographical region, where the A330-200F freighter currently is utilised by Qatar Airways and Etihad Crystal Cargo – with each of these users having three jetliners in their fleet.
According to Crawford Hamilton, Airbus’ Head of Twin-Aisle Marketing, the A330’s overall commercial success in the market is set to continue. “When we look at the Middle East, we see extremely solid A330 operators throughout the Arabic-speaking world,” he said. “The aircraft there is ubiquitous, and in terms of its ongoing appeal, we’re still seeing orders come in.”
This was underscored by Dubai Airshow announcements of two new acquisitions – both for the A330-200F. Qatar Airways placed a firm order for five more, with eight additional options; while Etihad Crystal Cargo is to expand its current A330-200F inventory with a new order for one aircraft.