A new chance for the A330neo?

Qatar Airways ever communicating Akbar Al Baker yesterday told the press that Airbus would drop the A350-800. Airbus instantly denied, so nobody can tell for sure what is the fate of the smallest model of the A350 family.

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…


  1. Dear aeroturbopower,

    For the 787-8 & 787-9, when they are configured in an AirAsia X layout, does that mean that the layout for economy is 9 or 10 abreast?

    1. Nine abreast for the B787 as seats are already only 17.3" then. Ten abreast would mean 15.4" wide seats. I don't think this is reasonable.Ten abreast in the A350 has 17.7" wide seats though.


    2. According to the article, with 17.7" wide seats, the A350 accommodates 9 abreast.

      I may be mistaken but I thought that an A330-300 with economy seats at 8 abreast has equal capacity to a 787-9 with economy seats at 9 abreast.

    3. Not quite, as the difference in cabin length is just about 75" - that does not make up for the one more seat per row when the 787 is at 9 and the A330 at 8 per row.

    4. Depends on the configuration.

      If the economy class cabin is less then 16 rows (144 seats) it makes up for the 787s 1 extra seat per row. And it has wider seats/ less middle seats.

      and for some operators both will have an 8 or 9 abreast cabin..

  2. The 787 and A350XWB won't have a cargo version for a long time. Cargo operators demanding better efficiency and lower noise at night might pull the trigger for a A330 NEO.

    GE might be willing to finance the modification in return for an exclusivity period. They have to share the 787, missed the A350, the 748 isn't hot, PW is gaining below 220 seats and RR is talking to Boeing on the 777X.