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Airbus Sold Only One (1) Of Its Worst-Selling Planes This Year

The A330neo aircraft is seen at Entebbe International Airport in Wakiso District, Central Region of Uganda, Feb. 2, 2021.

Uganda Airlines is in the exclusive club of having two A330-800neo planes
Photo: Nicholas Kajoba/Xinhua (Getty Images)

The Airbus A330-800neo is the European aircraft manufacturer’s worst-selling plane. Only a single order was placed for the mid-size long-haul jet this year. Airbus somehow managed to do this despite having an effective market duopoly with Boeing during a historic shortage of airliners.

The lone A330-800neo was sold to an undisclosed buyer, according to Business Insider. The model has been a dud since it was launched in 2014 due to operating costs. The airliner has only had a dozen orders. Commercial aircraft are designed and produced with a particular market in mind. This particular Airbus was targeted at low-cost airlines flying long-haul routes. Compared to the sister 900neo, the 800neo has prodigious range at the cost of seat capacity.

The low-seller can fly over 9,000 miles, a range advantage of 1,000 miles over the 900neo. The issue was that most airlines didn’t need that much range. A typical transatlantic flight is around 3,500 miles long. Carriers also preferred to have a larger cabin for flexibility in seating configuration. Few seats mean less revenue, especially when factoring in lucrative first and business-class seats.

The Boeing 787-9 is the most direct competitor to the Airbus A330-800neo and has been a commercial success. Boeing has fulfilled over 600 orders since 2014. Hawaiian Airlines, the 800neo’s first customer, canceled its order with Airbus to purchase a dozen 787-9 places. Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram told Business Insider, “if something affects the economics [of the business] and we need to make a change.”

The unpopularity of a plane can also make it more challenging for airlines to receive order deliveries. Parts shortages and supply chain issues sparked by the coronavirus pandemic have reduced production capacity, and manufacturers are far more willing to divert resources to planes with longer order lists. While Airbus hasn’t indicated that the 787-800neo will see delays, Reuters reported earlier this year the planemaker has delayed A321neo deliveries, a far better-selling aircraft.


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