February 27, 2023 aviation

A US First: Kuwait Airways Will Send The Airbus A330-800neo To New York JFK

Kuwait Airways is bringing the A330-800neo to New York JFK. It will replace the 777-300ER and should improve route performance by reducing trip costs. It will be very much the world's longest A330-800 airport pair and the second longest globally for the A330 generally.

Kuwait Airways A330neo to JFK

Beginning on March 15th, Kuwait Airways will deploy the A330-800 to JFK – 6,352 miles (10,223 km) from Kuwait International Airport – for the first time. Running daily, its A330neos have 235 seats in a two-class layout: 32 in business and 203 in economy.

Switching from the three-class 777-300ER means 89 fewer seats per departure (-38%). There's no more first class (eight seats), 87 fewer in business (-30%), but six more in economy (+23%). Using the A330neo will reduce costs greatly.

Big downgauging

Downgauging obviously means far fewer seats to sell, which should theoretically mean less discounting and stronger yields. However, from what I can tell, Kuwait Airways' A330-800s don't have crew rest areas, so some business class seats will not be able to be sold, further reducing sellable capacity. It is also possible that it may have a payload restriction en route to JFK, flying into the wind on the long sector.

The schedule when the A330 replaces the 777 is as follows, with all times local.

  • Kuwait to JFK: KU117, 08:30-14:55 (13h 25m block time)
  • JFK to Kuwait: KU118, 19:00-14:00 (+1) (12h)

The longest A330-800 flight

There are no two ways about it: the A330-800 is not a popular aircraft. Just three airlines use it: Kuwait Airways (four aircraft), Uganda Airlines (two), and Air Greenland (one). Once Garuda Indonesia's four examples have been delivered, that'll be it for the A330-800's deliveries (at least for now).

The A330-800 is about range, just as the A330-200 – the aircraft it effectively replaces – originally was. With a theoretical distance of up to 9,379 miles (15,094 kilometers), the A330-800 can be deployed on longer routes than the A330-900. Yet, it's not. Cirium says the -800's average stage length this summer is 3,043 miles (4,897 km), against 4,029 miles (6,484 km) for the -900. Of course, the latter has many more operators.

The A330-800's range comes at a cost.

The A330-800 is like the A340-500: designed for long-range, unpopular, and not really used for its intended purpose. The A330-800's huge range comes at a cost.

The smaller variant has the same maximum takeoff weight as the A330-900 but far lower passenger (and freight) capacity and a lower maximum payload. It has a higher fuel burn per seat than the larger A330-900 and is, therefore, less economical and competitive.

The situation is very similar to the relationship between the A330-200 and A330-300. The larger -300 was modified to have a maximum takeoff weight of 242 tonnes, enabling it to fly farther – into the territory of its sibling. Carrying more payload for longer improved its long-haul economics. The A330-300 became more competitive and, therefore, more popular.

Few advantages of its own

The A330-800 has few advantages of its own, something that is perhaps traded off in price. However, what of the resale value of the -800? Surely very low versus the much more popular -900.


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