Lightweight A330-300 Still Leaves Short-Range Gap

By Bradley Perrett
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

An obstacle for a budget airline using A330-300s will be finding enough suitable routes to justify an economically large fleet of them—say, 20 or more. U.S. consultant George Hamlin believes carriers will still be inclined to use A330-300s on short routes only when doing so fits a schedule that employs them mainly on longer flights. If so, then Airbus may not find many takers for the A330-300 at a low-weight certification. However, continued strong demand for it with full-weight paperwork could be a possibility.

Employing A330-300s strictly on short routes would be difficult for even Asia's biggest budget carriers, such as the Air Asia group. One of its member companies, AirAsia X, does fly -300s, but its mission is mainly to address destinations that A320s cannot reach from its Kuala Lumpur base. The A330s of Qantas group budget carrier Jetstar are similarly employed, flying from Australia but rarely within it.

The awkwardness of integrating so large an aircraft with narrowbody fleets again suggests that a large-capacity, moderate-range aircraft is needed. The A310 and 757 were dropped instead of reengined. With today's general upward drift in demanded aircraft size, and high fuel prices that punish excess weight, they may have been popular if given a second chance.

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