Exclusive: Kuwait Airways Will Swap Some A350 XWB Orders, For A330neo

Earlier this week, I wrote about Kuwait Airways’ latest update to its ‘refresh’ operation, that has seen the airline shift its strategy, rebrand, and introduce new aircraft into the fleet.

I mentioned how Mr Yousef Al Jassim, board chairman of Kuwait Airways Company (KAC) confirmed the airline “will sign a new contract with Airbus over the next two weeks” for the order of “modern aircraft” to join the Kuwait Airways fleet. Al Jassim also added that “all short-haul leased aircraft already in the Kuwait Airways fleet will be phased out.”

I can now exclusively reveal that Kuwait Airways will be swapping part of its existing Airbus A350 XWB order, for the Airbus A330neo — after the airline assessed it as an adequate replacement for Kuwait Airways’ existing, leased A330 aircraft.

It means Kuwait Airways will become the first airline in the Middle East to have the A330neo and the A350 XWB, in its fleet —two of the world’s newest long-haul wide-body aircraft.

Operationally, the A330neo shares a common pilot type-rating with the larger A350 XWB, meaning pilots trained on one, can very easily fly the other.

While the A330-900neo isn’t in service yet, last week it received its Type Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency, and the first delivery to TAP Air Portugal will take place momentarily. I recently flew on test flights for TAP Air Portugal’s upcoming A330neo, and I was extremely pleased with the quietness of the jet.

The A330neo is newer than the A350, but the two jets have a lot in common. A330neo’s feature brand new wings, with an extended wingspan of 64m. Furthermore, the aircraft is powered by new Rolls Royce engines, with Trent XWB technology (found on the A350), and all new nacelles and pylons. Similar to the A350, the aircraft will provide Kuwait Airways with a 14% fuel burn improvement per seat, and increased range, compared with the airlines’ existing A330 aircraft.

Even in the cabin, commonality between the A330neo and A350 XWB is at the core of the overall design.

Below are two ‘Airspace’ branded cabins, left showing the A330neo, and right showing the A350 XWB.

The main difference is the overhead locker design, but the image gives you a sense of how these aircraft have more similarities, than differences.

Final Thought

Kuwait Airways have a goal of operating one of the world’s youngest fleets, and having a mix of A330neo and A350 XWB aircraft is sure to help the airline accelerate its efficiency plans.

Kuwait Airways will be making a formal announcement to the public, over the coming two weeks, regarding the Airbus order update. Stay tuned!

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