National carrier Saudi Arabian Airlines will be the launch customer (first airline in the world to operate), of the new Airbus A330-300 Regional wide-body. The airline has placed a firm order for 20 aircraft at the Paris air show.
Patterned on similar lines like the 787-10 i.e. packing more passengers in to a same size aircraft and trading payload for range, the A330-300 Regional, has a reduced operational weight around 200 tonnes and is designed to seat up to 400 passengers for flights up to 3,000 nm.
In comparison, late last month, Airbus delivered the first 242 tonne A330-300 meant for long range flights, to Delta Air Lines.
Saudi Arabian Airlines already has 12 “regular” A330-300s in its fleet.
China is key market
As the name suggests the A330-300 Regional is designed for regional and domestic high traffic routes. Though Saudi Arabian will be the launch customer, the main intended market for this aircraft is China, where domestic routes between main metro cities now demand a wide body aircraft, given the slot limitations and growing traffic. In fact Airbus had announced this reduced weight variant at the Beijing air show in 2013.
The reduced fuel burn of up to 26% compared to regular A330-300s, will help China’s airlines with improved seat-kilometre economics for shorter distance international destinations like Tokyo, Seoul, Osaka, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok etc.