Air Asia’s chief Tony Fernandes is a long time proponent of the so-called A330neo and at the same time dismisses the A350-800. The A330 has a slightly larger capacity, according to Airbus. But this is based on a 9 abreast layout and I would suggest that AirAsiaX will fly their A350-900 with a 10 abreast layout as they are flying the A330-300 today in a 9 abreast layout, squeezing in 377 passengers (12 in C, 365 in Y). So the capacity of the A330-300 and the A350-800 is comparable with the A350-800 having 362 passengers in a theoretical AirAsiaX layout (12 in C, 350 in Y). But the A330-300 is lighter at OEW. The A330neo would feature GEnx or Trent1000 engines from the B787 instead of the more powerful, but also larger and heavier Trent XWB on the A350. The Trent XWB on the other side should be about 2% better in SFC than the Trent1000, although with the introduction of the Trent 1000TEN the difference in SFC should shrink.
The 787-8 and 787-9 would seat 309 resp. 372 seats in a AirAsiaX layout, the A350-900 will have more than 400 seats according to the original press release when AirAsiaX announced to buy 10 A350-900. I calculated 418 seats with still 12 seats in C.
And this is what I got for a 4,000nm mission.
The A350-900 and the B787-9 are, not by any surprise, the most efficient aircraft. Although the B787-9 is smaller in size, it is on par with the A350-900.
What is more important though is that the A330neo would be more economical than the A350-800. It burns more than 5% less per passenger. And even if we correct for size, the A330-300neo burns 3% less than the A350-800. This should Airbus thinking about if Akbar Al Bakers statement should be proven wrong…