The A330 aircraft family has managed to sustain itself in the aviation market for more than 25 years; let alone talk about the first A330-300. The aircraft has remained a selective piece for both commercial and freighter operators. Followed by the formal launch of A330-300 in 1994, its younger sibling, the A330-200 joined the venture in 1998. By virtue of the multiple roles in commercial and freighter configurations, the A330 has already been declared as the ‘Workhorse’ of the Airbus. The A330-200’s first customer was ILFC, Canada.
Read also:- Airbus A330 the Work Horse
Something About the A330-200
The A330-200 is the shorter version of its predecessor A330-300. It has a shorter fuselage as compared to the A330-300 since some of its fuselage frames have been removed. The A330-200 is ten fuselage frames shorter than the original 300 version. The A330-200 and A330-300 are referred to as the Legacy variants. They are also part of the A330ceo (current engine option). The new variant of A330 is known as the A330neo (new engine option).
Despite being shorter than the A330-300, the 200 series still has quite a large fuselage with substantial cabin width. The aircraft flies with a three-class configuration and accommodates around 210-250 passengers. However, it can carry 406 passengers at its peak passenger density. The A330-200 has a range of 13450 km that comes roughly around 7300 nautical miles. In 2008, Airbus came up with a new subvariant of the A330-200; named the A330-200 HGW (High Gross Weight). The new sub-variant had an extra range of 560km or 302 nautical miles. This addition enhanced its range to 19000 km or 7600 nautical miles. Korean Air was the first operator of the A330-200 HGW.
Most of the countries in Europe are very closely situated. Therefore, the range is not much of an issue within Europe. Even going farther through the Atlantic, the A330-200 is well capable of making its reach to the cities of the Eastern zone of the US without getting refueled in between. Now, consider the aerial distance between the two busiest airports of the world – Heathrow (London) and JFK (New York), it comes out to be 5555 km or 2999 nautical miles.
Now referring to the range of the A330-200, it can easily fly non-stop between the two locations with more than ample fuel still available in its tanks. Practically also, the traffic volume between these two airports is phenomenal, and A330-200 is always a good option.
Successful Medium Haul Aircraft
The success criteria of any commercial aircraft are not always about the fuel capacity or more number of engines. There are a few critical factors that need to be considered while selecting an aircraft for a specific route. Not all aircraft are good for medium-haul flights. The A330-200 is a strong competitor of Boeing 767-300ER and the early versions of the Boeing 777. Moreover, profits in the airline industry mainly depend on different factors including specific routes, passenger demand, traffic density, and performance of the aircraft itself. The Operational Cost is one of the most significant considerations for airlines.
Analysis of this type of cost for a wide-body aircraft is critically important because wide-body aircraft contribute to more than half of the total value of the overall aviation economy. A commercial wide-body aircraft like A330-200 has two aisles with seven or more seats in a row. The aircraft has been designed for best efficiency, passenger comfort, revenue, and definitely the highest net profit. Hub and Spoke Model highly suites such wide-body aircraft because the average number of passengers increases prominently which ultimately reduces the average cost incurred by the airlines.
Some of the important Operational Cost factors include Flight distance, aircraft model and engine type, fuel prices, number of passengers, While considering the fluctuating fuel price factor for medium-haul flights, Airbus A330-200 comes out to be the best choice in a 210-250 seat configuration.
Though A350xwb, Boeing 787, and 777X are better choices in terms of fuel efficiencies these days they have higher seat configurations than the A330-200. Therefore, the comparison seems unfair. Another very important factor for the success of the A330-200 is its cost. The aircraft is cheaper than the aircraft of the Boeing series. It is also one of the prominent reasons for the continuation of the A330 CEO series in the present-day aviation market.
According to a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation on Transatlantic Airline Fuel Efficiency, 2017, the Airbus A330 family of aircraft was the most widely used on transatlantic routes in 2017, accounting for 25% of all flights. Its fuel efficiency average came out to be approximately 1 pax-km/L better than the industry average. Although, Boeing 787 Dreamliner fared much better yet the flight share is predominantly very important here. The report also mentioned that the fuel efficiency of aircraft has improved in recent years due to better engines. Similarly, these engines have also contributed towards lesser carbon footprints in the last few years.
The geographic distribution of the A330ceo fleet is reasonably well. Most of its operators are based in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region, where 47% of the aircraft operate. Similarly, 30% of the CEO fleet is based in Europe. That makes it the second-highest geographic regional concentration, while 12% of the A330 fleet is based in the Africa and Middle East regions. Air Asia has the highest number of A330-200 fleet in the APAC region.
Both A330-300 and A330-200 account for 1441 aircraft around the world. The A330-200 shares 46% of the total number which is still a big percentage. By looking at its presence and its utility in the networks, the aircraft has remained a successful player in the aviation market. Despite being older and surrounded by stronger contestants, it is still a good choice to be used in the capacity of a commercial as well as a freighter jet.
Written by guest writer, Faisal Bashir