Arkia Israeli Airlines has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus for up to four A330-900neo widebodies.
The commitment makes Arkia the first Airbus widebody customer in Israel and the first customer for the Airbus A330nee family in the Middle East.
According to Airbus, the A330-900neos will help Arkia to expand its operations into long-haul business and leisure markets.
The A330-900neo will offer a reduction in fuel burn of 14 per cent per seat, an increase in non-stop flying range of up to 400 nautical miles and lower maintenance costs than the A330-300, the equivalent current-production A330 model.
Arkia’s A330-900neos will join four Airbus A321neo aircraft which the Israeli carrier ordered at the Farnborough International Airshow 2012.
With Airbus’ Cross Crew Qualification concept, pilots and engineers can transition from the single-aisle A320 family to the twin-aisle A330 quickly, the manufacturer says, adding that airlines can operate and maintain both types with the same pool of pilots and engineers.
According to Airbus, the A330neo will also offer the latest in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems, either fourth-generation IFE or ‘light’ IFE depending on the operator’s preference.
The A330neo family will also offer connectivity to the ground, including mobile telephony and internet access services via onboard wireless services, enabling passengers to access Wi-Fi content and services on their personal electronic devices.
“The A330-900neo will be a key asset to help us grow efficiently on highly competitive international long-haul routes from and to Israel. The A330-900neo will offer our passengers the latest product with great cabin comfort on direct, long-haul flights,” said Nir Dagan, Arkia’s president and chief executive officer.
“Thanks to the proven reliability and fuel efficiency of the A330 family, the A330neo will also ensure that our majority shareholders, the Nakash brothers and Jordache Enterprises, are super happy,” Dagan added.
Nakash Holdings is the private investment-office arm of Jordache Enterprises, of Jordache jeans fame. The company manages a multi-billion-dollar investment portfolio which includes MG Aviation in Hong Kong, retail, agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, hotels and real estate situated in prime locations throughout the world.
The real estate portfolio consists of retail, office, multi-family and hospitality properties. Among the group’s recent acquisitions are the Versace Mansion and the Art Deco-architecture Setai Hotel, Miami Beach.
Building on the success of the A330 family, which has accumulated firm orders for almost 1,400 aircraft, the A330neo will incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, aerodynamic enhancements and new cabin features.