Jet Airways to get its first Airbus A330-300 next week

Jet Airways Airbus A330-300 VT-JWR
Photo copyright Eurospot

India’s doyen of aviation journalism, Neelam Matthews, reports that, Jet Airways will receive its first Airbus A330-300 next week, which will be registered as VT-JWR.

The airline already operates ten of the smaller A330-200 in its fleet, and has leased out two. The A330-200 and A330-300 are almost identical in all but length. The two other key differences are that the centre tank is activated for increased fuel capacity and an extended fin and rudder on the A330-200. Jet will leverage the common flight deck for quick deployment using its existing flight crews.

Comparison graphic A330-200 vs. A330-300 dimensions size lateral view. Photo copyright Airbus S.A.S.

The new aircraft is expected to have 34 seats in business class and 258 in economy. Compare this to the two configurations of the A330-200. 30 Business 190 Economy and 18 Business 236 Economy.

Mumbai-Brussels and Mumbai-Hong Kong are the two routes, Jet operates, that are capable of sustaining this, the larger of the A330 brothers.

The A330-300 is expected to bridge the gap between the smaller A330-200s and the significantly heavier Boeing 777-300ERs (B77Ws) in the airline’s fleet, and bring a significant level of flexibility to cater to peak demands.

Jet’s Boeing 777-300ERs currently configured in a 8 First, 30 Business, and 274 Economy. These aircraft, which have been a success for most of the world’s airlines, are turning out to be a problem for Jet Airways.

They are configured with First Class Suites. (See images of the premium cabins). While the suites have won Jet international accolades, at almost two tons per suite, it has turned out to be a pyrrhic victory for the airline. Jet’s 777s are so heavy that unlike Air India, the other Indian 777 operator, Jet cannot operate its aircraft non-stop to the United States.

Jet is reconfiguring its economy class from a comfortable nine abreast, to a bone crunching ten abreast layout, increasing its economy class seats from 274 to 314. This will add more weight to their  already overweight 777s, and while it will increase the number of passengers, it will reduce comfort, and play right in to the hands of Emirates, which Jet cannot match, either in terms of pricing, or network.

With a limited destination network, Jet is unable to fill its First Class, except on the Mumbai-London and Delhi-London sector which relies on the wealthy Indians, resident in these three cities.

Consequently, out of a fleet of ten 777s, Jet used to operate only three, leasing out the balance to Turkish Airlines and Thai Airways, both of which have successfully leveraged these aircraft, till their own 777-300ERs arrived. Now they are returning these aircraft to Jet, which is running out of income and out of options. At present, five are leased to Thai Airways and Jet operates five, only because the airline has not been able to lease them out, not because of need.

Hopefully the A330-300s will give Jet some options, but the airline has to forgo ego, and exercise ingenuity, to extract maximum benefit. Do you think Jet will be able to do that?

As usual, your thoughts and comments are solicited.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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