In the video from the GMF we posted yesterday, Airbus’ John Leahy mentions that is headed to the Beijing Airshow after the event. In the Q&A he would not answer the obvious question about what was coming at the show other than a “product announcement”. Turns out he had a lot more to talk about.
The product announcement is a new lower weight variant of the A330-300 that is optimized for use on domestic and regional routes in high growth markets with large populations and concentrated traffic flows. AviationWeek has some information on this variant. China is a key target market for this aircraft. “The new lower weight A330-300 variant specially designed for regional and domestic use is Airbus’ solution for markets with large populations and fast growing, concentrated air traffic flows. Operators of the new A330-300 variant will benefit from a proven, mature and reliable aircraft that brings relief to limited airspace, airport congestion and pilot shortage,” said Fabrice Bregier. “We are announcing the new A330-300 lower weight variant today in China because here we see strong pent-up demand for efficient and reliable wide-body aircraft connecting mega cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou.”
In our view this is a smart decision. Airlines already have found the A330 to be versatile. It operates effectively on long segments across the oceans as well as a Asian regional airliner. The A330 now can do pretty much whatever it was designed to do at the start of the program plus any work the A340-2/300 can do. It makes sense that Airbus keeps tweaking the airplane’s inherent potential.
In addition, Airbus is having a great week with orders.
- BOC Aviation, the Singapore-based aircraft leasing subsidiary of Bank of China, announced at the 15th Aviation Expo China 2013 in Beijing an additional firm order for the purchase of 25 A320 aircraft comprising 13 A320ceo and 12 A320neos.
- Qingdao Airlines, a newly established airline based in the Eastern Chinese coastal city of Qingdao, signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for a total of 23 A320 aircraft, including five A320ceo and 18 A320neos.
- Zhejiang Loong Airlines, a new airline based in Hongzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China, signed an MoU for 20 A320 aircraft, including 11 A320ceo and nine A320neos.
- VietJetAir signed a letter of intent to purchase 62 A320 aircraft worth $6.1 billion at catalog prices and take options on another 30.