First 242-tonne A330-300 is delivered to Delta Air Lines

Enhanced version allows longer flights at lower costs


The first 242-tonne Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) variant of the A330-300 was delivered today to Delta Air Lines. The Atlanta, Georgia (U.S.) – based airline is the first to receive the aircraft type from among 11 worldwide customers for the option. Delta has selected GE CF6-80E1 engines to power its new A330-300.

Launched in 2012 as Airbus’ latest evolution to the twin-engine widebody A330 Family, the increased take-off weight A330-200 and A330-300 incorporate a new aerodynamic package, engine improvements and an optional centre fuel tank (the latter for the A330-300 version). These upgrades on the A330-300 allow for an extended range of up to 6,100 nautical miles while offering up to 2 percent fuel consumption reduction. This incremental innovation to Airbus’ A330 Family received airworthiness approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in April 2015, and received parallel certification from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this month.

The delivery ceremony today at Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse, France, is particularly notable as the airline brought some 100 employees – each a member of Delta’s Chairman’s Club. The group is selected by their peers annually from 10-thousand nominees in Delta’s most prestigious corporate recognition program.

“Delta’s addition of this Airbus A330-300 marks a major milestone and reflects our continued strategy of making prudent investments in our fleet that enhance our customer experience and operational reliability,” said Delta President Ed Bastian from the delivery event. “Having our Chairman’s Club honorees, true examples of the Delta spirit of service, here to help us welcome this new aircraft into the Delta family makes this occasion even more special.”

“As the launch customer and launch operator of the 242-tonne A330-300, Delta is demonstrating its continued confidence in the performance and comfort of the A330, which has been part of the airline’s fleet for twelve years,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer – Customers. “The higher take-off weight allows the airline to fly both trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific routes, all in unrivalled comfort with operational reliability over 99 percent. The 242-tonne A330 clearly paves the way for the A330neo and A350 XWB to join Delta’s fleet in the next few years.”

Delta Air Lines, Airbus’ biggest A330 customer in North America, flies currently both Airbus single-aisle and widebody aircraft, including 57 A319ceo and 69 A320ceo aircraft, plus 11 A330-200s and 21 A330-300s. In addition to nine more A330-300s and 45 A321ceos still to be delivered to Delta, the airline ordered 25 A350-900 and 25 A330-900neo Airbus widebody aircraft last year.

Being member of the Airbus leading widebody family, and reflecting the market’s continued demand for high efficiency, comfort and reliability, the A330 Family has won more than 1,500 firm orders from over 100 customers worldwide and has more than 1,100 aircraft in operation.

Airbus Website

Australia-Philippines air services agreement expanded

Cebu Pacific Airbus A330-300 arrives at Sydney Airport. (Lee Gatland)
Cebu Pacific Airbus A330-300 arrives at Sydney Airport. (Lee Gatland)

Australia has agreed to expand the number of seats available to Philippine carriers under a new air services agreement between the two countries.

The new arrangements, which were struck during talks between the two nations in Canberra last week, will immediately increase the capacity entitlements for Philippines flag carriers to 8,300 seats per week, from 6,000 seats per week previously.

There will be a further jump up in March 2016 to 9,300 seats per week for Philippines airlines operating to the four main Australian gateways of Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Warren Truss said in a statement on Monday.

This represented an increase of 55 per cent.

Truss said the Philippines was a expanding aviation market, having posted an average growth rate of 10.5 per cent over the past five years.

“The new arrangements will allow this growth rate to continue for another four years, recognising the potential of Australia as a prime tourism destination within the Asia-Pacific region,” Truss said in a statement.

“Increasing the number of flights between Australia and the Philippines will help ensure that we have the aviation capacity necessary to meet future growth in demand.”

Low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air has been lobbying for an increase in capacity in a bid to add more flights to Australia.

Currently, Cebu flies up to five times a week between Manila and Sydney. It had previously expressed a desire to expand its service to daily, as well as begin flying to Melbourne. However, there was no spare capacity left under the previous arrangements, with the 6,000 seats a week split between it and Philippine Airlines.

“In the first four months of operations, CEB’s low fares and direct, non-stop services significantly stimulated inbound traffic into the Philippines and Australia,” the general manager for Cebu’s long-haul division Alex Reyes said in a statement on April 24.

“We look forward to expanding our services and further growing inbound tourism into our countries.”

Cebu, the Philippines’ largest carrier, launched its service to Sydney in September 2014 with 436-seat single-class A330-300s.

A research note from CAPA – Centre for Aviation cautioned that maintaining a daily service from Manila to both Sydney and Melbourne would be challenging and “could prove overly ambitious” for Cebu.

“The Philippines-Australia market is extremely seasonal and at least for the short to medium term is unlikely to support such a large amount of capacity (over 10,000 weekly one-way seats) except during the peak periods,” CAPA said in a research note dated April 25.

“Most Filipino expatriates as well as students return home during holiday periods due to their work or study schedules. It will be hard to stimulate sufficient demand from Australia’s Filipino community to fill up a 436-seat aircraft daily from Sydney or Melbourne on a year-round basis.”

The new air services agreement also increased available capacity from Australian carriers and offered them greater codeshare rights.

“Importantly, the settled arrangements expand code sharing opportunities for Australian airlines, providing potential for our airlines to expand their global networks and connectivity through cooperative marketing arrangements with overseas partners,” Truss said.

In addition to Cebu, Philippine Airlines flies from Manila to Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane via Darwin. Among Australian carriers, Qantas has four times a week service between Manila and Sydney. Qantas’s low-cost subsidiary Jetstar previously flew from Darwin to Tokyo Narita via Manila.



Australian Aviation

Cathay February passenger numbers boosted by Chinese New Year

A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 at Gold Coast Airport. (Gold Coast Airport)
A Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 at Gold Coast Airport. (Gold Coast Airport)

Passenger numbers at Cathay Pacific rose strongly in February, helped by the timing of the Chinese New Year.

The airline group said total passengers carried across its Cathay and Dragonair network rose 12.4 per cent to 2.68 million in February, compared with the prior corresponding period.

There was strong demand on flights to mainland China, North Asia, North America and Southeast Asia, with double-digit increases in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) on those routes.

And RPKs for South West Pacific (which covers Australia and New Zealand) and South Africa routes rose 9.9 per cent, Cathay said on Monday.

“Passenger traffic in February was boosted by the Chinese New Year holiday, which fell in January in the previous year,” Cathay general manager for revenue management Patricia Hwang said in a statement.

“It was a very strong peak in terms of leisure demand, with new daily and weekly passenger uplift records set for both airlines.

“Demand on the Southwest Pacific routes, to Australia and New Zealand, was robust throughout the month.”

“While it helped to spur leisure traffic, the holiday period led to a dip in demand in the premium cabins.”

Cathay said on March 9 it would boost capacity to Australia from October when a Boeing 777-300ER takes over a second of its four daily flights to Sydney.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines (SIA) also experienced a lift in passenger numbers in February on its services to Australia, but struggled on the rest of its network.

SIA said passenger load factors (PLF) to Australia and New Zealand were up 5.2 percentage points to 84.9 per cent in February, compared with the same month a year earlier.

It was the only one of SIA’s five regions to record an improvement in load factors in February, with flights to East Asia, the Americas and Europe all flying emptier in the month, while load factors on its West Asia network were flat.

“PLF improved for South West Pacific on the back of stronger demand, coupled with capacity consolidation,” SIA said in a statement.

“On the other hand, PLF on East Asia routes declined as capacity growth outstripped demand. Passenger demand was weaker to Americas and Europe.

SIA said the competitive landscape continued to be challenging.

“Singapore Airlines will remain nimble to redeploy capacity to better match market demand and promotional activities will continue in relevant markets,” the company said.

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)
A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at Sydney Airport. (Rob Finlayson)

Australia Aviation