Airbus has handed over the 1,000th A330, an A330-300 powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, to Cathay Pacific Airways at a ceremony in Toulouse on July 19.
Together with its sister airline Dragonair, Cathay Pacific Airways is the world’s largest operator of the Airbus A330, the two Cathay Pacific Group carriers now operating a total of 56 A330s.
“The A330 has played an integral part in Cathay Pacific’s growth and we look forward to continuing our successful partnership in the future,” said Ivan Chu, chief operating officer for Cathay Pacific Airways. “The A330 is the backbone of our mid-size fleet and we are delighted with the reliability, flexibility and above all the economics of this great aircraft. We are very proud to be the recipient of the 1,000th A330.”
Since it took delivery of its first A330 in 1995, Cathay Pacific’s Airbus fleet now comprises 38 A330-300s and 11 A340s, while Dragonair flies 21 single aisle Airbus A320-family jets and 18 A330-300s.
The Cathay Pacific Group has outstanding orders for 10 more A330-300s. The airline will also take delivery of 48 new Airbus A350 XWB widebodies in the future, including 46 ordered from Airbus and two leased aircraft.
More than 100 operators now fly A330s. Operators include network carriers, low cost airlines, charter and flag carriers. A330s are operated on missions ranging from 30 minutes to over 14 hours.
About 1.2 billion passengers have flown on board A330s, to and from the 300 airports the A330 family serves today. As of June 30, customers had placed firm orders for a total of 1,252 A330s.
Since the A330’s service entry, Airbus has continued to upgrade the aircraft. Over the past 10 years the company says it has invested one euro in improvements for every euro originally spent developing the jetliner.
The Airbus A330 family now encompasses five members: the A330-200 and A330-300 passenger versions; the A330-200F mid-sized freighter; the A330 MRTT multi-role military tanker transport; and the ACJ330 VIP jetliner.
Enhancements introduced on the A330 over the years are many, from cabin upgrades using full LED lighting and fourth-generation in-flight entertainment systems to improved operating efficiency with reduced fuel consumption, according to Airbus.
One of Airbus’ latest major improvements to the A30 family is due for service entry in 2015. This upgrade involves increasing the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of the A330-200 and the A330-300 to 242 tonnes.
According to Airbus, this will extend the A330-300’s range to 6,100 nautical miles, while increasing the range of the A330-200 to 7,250 nautical miles.
With these upgrades, Airbus will have added about 50 per cent more range to the Airbus A330-300 since its service entry, while reducing maintenance costs by 20 per cent.
The A330’s continued sales popularity is reflected in annual production-rate rises of 10 per cent in recent years, with production now running at a record 10 aircraft per month.