It may be struggling for sales globally, but for TAP Air Portugal, the A330neo is exactly the right plane. Offering his comments to Business Insider, David Neeleman – TAP’s co-owner – said that familiarity, range and price played a part in the decision to choose the A330 over an A350 or Dreamliner.
The Airbus A330neo may be struggling for sales, but for one carrier, the wide-body craft is proving to be exactly the right fit. David Neeleman, the man who founded four different airlines – including JetBlue and WestJet – and who is co-owner of TAP Air Portugal, spoke to Business Insider about why the carrier opted for the A330neo over, for example, the Boeing Dreamliner or the A350.
Commenting on any potential swap from Boeing to Airbus, Neeleman told the outlet, “We were already kind of with Airbus so it’s harder to make the switch.”
Regarding the choice to pass on the A350, Neeleman explained, “The A350 is a good airplane, but it’s kind of too much airplane for us. One of the advantages of the A350 is its range. You can go 16 or 17 hours on and we didn’t need that range.”
While these long-range capabilities are normally regarded as a boon to potential buyers, the outlet observes that many of the carrier’s services are “designed to connect Portugal with North America and the country’s former colonies.” Brazil, for example, is well-served by TAP and the carrier sees heavy passenger traffic between the country and Europe and, with a maximum range of just over 8,000 miles, the A350 is the perfect fit.
Finally, there’s finances. According to the outlet, “The A330-900neo lists for $296.4 million while the comparable A350-900 costs $21 million more per plane.”
Neeleman further explained that, “We actually had an order for 12 A350s, but we needed more airplanes. It kind of did everything we needed based on the money we had to spend so we ended up going with the A330neo.”
The outlet reports that the A330neo has, at this point, received just 224 orders, but it will officially enter service with TAP – its launch customer – later in the autumn of 2018.