The A330Neo Logic For PAL

NEO For Long Haul

21 June 2018
The Airbus A330-300 has been the work horse of Philippine Airlines (PAL) trans-regional network since its introduction to the airline in 1996.

At the time when the A330 entered PAL service, it weighted a mere 212 tonnes with 2,700 nautical miles (nm) in payload range enough to cover Seoul, Tokyo, Singapore and Bangkok.

The medium to long-range flights, particularly to Australia, Middle East, Europe and North America was relegated to the long ranged Airbus A340-300, DC-10, MD-11, and Boeing 747-400s introduced to the airline in 1992.

PAL upgraded the A330 fleet in 2012 with the 235 tonnes variant which entered service in 2014 capable of reaching 4,200nm upgrading the planes capability within the medium haul range.

The increase in range capability has enabled the airline to introduce far longer routes like Kuwait, Sydney, Melbourne, Honolulu, Riyadh, Jeddah, and lately Auckland in New Zealand, which otherwise would have been impossible with the original variant.

Now, Airbus third test-flight bed for the newest A330, the -900 (MSN1819) series, carrying the colours of launch operator TAP Portugal, is designed to be a long-ranged aircraft capable of reaching Africa, Europe, and the East Coast of North America from the Philippines.

After its first flight on November 2, 1992, the A330 aircraft has undergone major revamp in design and engineering ever since its conception from the short hauler 212 tonnes aircraft to the long hauler 251 tonnes variant that will start flying in 2020.

Most notable differences with current A330 is that the A330neo engines are larger (112-inch fan for the Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 instead of 97 inches for the Trent 700). Therefore the nacelles are mounted higher relative to the wing, and in order to carry the weight of the aircraft, the A330neo wing is extensively upgraded with the wingspan extended with 3.7 meters capped with larger Sharklets, resembling the ones from A350 to reduce induced drag.

It is finalizing route-proving flights for final aircraft Certification that will make the plane fly 7,200nm from Manila, enough to reach Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The A330neo’s new specifications are well known: new A350-styled Sharklets and “bandit” windscreen, numerous aerodynamic enhancements, an upgraded landing gear system, bigger windows, and a more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, which has 99% commonality with the current generation A330 operated by PAL.

So why the need for the A330neo?

New Markets.
Its the best aircraft type to open the thin secondary markets of Europe like Rome, Frankfurt or Paris which is too big to be served either by B777-300ER or its bigger sibling, the A350. It is the primordial reason effectively holding the airline's expansion plans due to limited market size of the Filipino diaspora. Even London will be relegated to the A350 service soon.

The current A330-300s of PAL has flown new medium haul markets to Honolulu, Auckland, Riyadh and Jeddah, which were the former realms of its sister the A340s, or B747s, because of its range capability and has been able to hold it efficiently since then.

Europe.
But PALs existing A330 won't have enough range when it start operations in Tel Aviv or Rome after Saudi Arabia granted it permission to overfly its airspace. The airline would have to fly the A340 a little longer to service the route, and the obvious choice is to start ordering a smaller plane to service these routes. After all the offer of the Kingdom is not perpetual.

In the same manner, It also has no other option to begin new market in Europe but to start it with a smaller capable plane. That is where the 251t A330-900 fits perfectly in the equation.

The new long hauler would most likely seat around 260-270 in tri-class configuration (24 business class, 24 premium economy, and 216+/- economy seats), more than the current A340-300 which has 254 seats, and less than the 295 seater A350-900. In so doing, it gains a little more on payload and range when needed.

Flexibility.
It is also a good alternative to fly London, Vancouver, San Francisco, or Los Angeles on some lean days when passenger volume does not justify a 290-370 plane, more so to fly leaner route networks like Seattle or San Diego, or better yet re-opening Cebu to the west coast.

That is currently the job of the existing A340 but operating cost doesn't even come close to the efficiency of the 330neo delivering a 30 percent operating cost savings per seat, particularly with rising fuel prices.

Effeciency.
Also by comparison, the A330neo reduces fuel consumption by 14% per seat compared to the current A330ceo model PAL had for the 4,000nm sector, making the plane the most cost efficient medium range widebody aircraft in the market, and better than the B787-900 aircraft competitor for the next 2,000nm.

Commonality.
The A330-900neo has 95% commonality of spare parts with the existing PAL fleet of A330-300s. They also have the same Pilot type rating of the existing A330s saving the airline more in training costs. It is the perfect support for the A350 operations.

Capital Costs.
Based on Market Inteligence data, the 251t A330-900neo plane is listed as having a list price between $125-$130 million. The A350-900 PAL had on the other hand has a list price of $180 million ($1.085b) from orders made in 2016. That makes the A350-900 more than $50 million more expensive than the A330-900.

Route Rationalization.
PAL chief executive and president Jaime Bautista disclosed that A350-900 deliveries are “June (deferred to July 17), August, September and December. Then March and June [2019].” They have no widebody aircraft delivery for long haul in 2020.

“Smaller airplane is always good to fly to new destinations." remarks Bautista.

Bautista says the airline is looking at the possibility of serving Paris and Rome. The A330neo maybe the plane for that. And five frames should be sufficient enough to make them very busy.

A330neo will surely strengthen PALs international flights to North America and Europe, and serve select new destinations too big for the A350. It is wise for the airline to build on the A330's proven economics, versatility and reliability.

28 comments:

  1. I agree to your opinions. I believe in PAL's existing networks an all Airbus family will be beneficial. A320ceo/A321ceo for domestic route. A321neoLR for medium range lean market. A330-900neo for long range lean market, which can also be use for medium range high-dense market. And A350-900ULR for ultra-long range lean market and A350-1000 for high density market.
    It will be a good opportunity for them to operate an aircraft from one manufacturer to save them cost for pilot and crew training plus on spare parts as all aircraft now has commonality.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually the regular A350-900 can fly most if not all of PAL's desired North America routes, and Airbus already said that they didn't need the ULR. Right now only Singapore Airlines has ordered the ULR version (though Qantas is interested and may place an order if it fits their requirements), and I don't think PAL wants to order a plane that is essentially an orphan (look at how the A330-800 can't get off the ground, for example).

      As for their 777s, I doubt those will go away in the short-to-medium term considering they're still relatively new. They could be totally replaced by A350-1000s but that's unlikely to happen until maybe at least 10 years from now.

      Delete
    2. The logic is fleet rationalisation.

      Why would you send a 295 seater plane for 250 passengers when a smaller capable aircraft like the A330neo with 260 can do similar trick for you?

      That is actually what is happening in London after summer ends and Sydney's winter.

      And by no means the 330neo is an orphan plane. I just stated the very obvious commonality with the A333.

      Delete
    3. When I said orphan, I was referring to the A330-800, not the A330neo as a whole.

      Delete
    4. For discussion purposes, A330neo refers to the A330-900 and not the A330-800 as PAL never had the A330-200.

      As to the question as to why they never had one, the answer was 1994 Fleet Rationalization Plan based on target markets described in 1994. There was no -200 at the time Airbus orders were made and there was no need for the frame subsequently thereafter due to events in 1997.

      Delete
  2. I think it would be a great idea if PAL will get at least 5 units in tri-class configuration of 250-280 seats. It will be the work force for thin long range routes in Europe as well as U.S West coast. Also, they can open direct flights to Europe and US to tourist destinations capable of the A330 like Puerto Princesa and Panglao.

    As for Cebu Pacific, with their dream of reaching Honolulu, and if they will aquire this aircraft, they will need this aircraft to have 340-370 seats in order to reach Honolulu. It will be a great idea if they consider adding "economy plus" in 2-3-2 abreast in their cabin to lessen the seats and having an abreast of 2-4-2 just like PAL's economy class.

    One question, can a A330-900 reach Honolulu at 400+ pax? Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Probably not, but I think PAL is already shedding its hybrid ways so I doubt they'll return to the high-density A330s (their current ones are planned to be refurbished in the medium term).

      As for CebPac, they said they're more interested in the 787, but considering their losses in long-haul routes that are not Australia or Dubai, they said they're not considering more long-haul flying in the short-to-medium term.

      Delete
    2. So if ever PAL will get the A330-900, it will be at 300+ pax just like their current A330hgw fleet.

      It's a great idea for CebPac to aquire the real long hauler Boeing 787 even at full, it can fly certain distances but I think they have losses in their long range network because CebPac's A330 has 436 pax. Almost the exit limit capacity of what the A330 is designed for (which is 440 pax) meaning they have restricted range and baggage allowance. Thus cancelling or using two A330s for the same schedule and route in order to compensate the weight carried by these aircraft. Why not consider putting up "economy plus" cabin just like AirAsia X (which is an LLC) to lessen the seats of the aircraft.

      Delete
    3. If PAL plans to use the -900s for introductory routes, they will not gabmble on a higher seat count. 300+ pax may be viable for high density routes, but i doubt in the lean European market.

      Delete
    4. Current CEB A330@400+ seats...cant do HNL
      251t A330neo, same seat count, can. BUT cannot cross Pacific.

      Delete
    5. An A330neo and a B787 can't cross the Pacific but can reach HNL at 440 maximum. If so, they can operate Middle East without any payload restriction with this type.

      Delete
  3. CEB has indicated its clear interest for the 787 if they're going long-haul. However, with CEB's route structure adjustment recently, any destination farther than DXB/SYD might be off the table for the next five years.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If they do go for the B787 they will have a similar fleet structure to Scoot Air in SG which operates a mix of airbus single-aisle aircraft and boeing wide-body jets However they don't have A321 in there fleet yet.

      Delete
    2. A 400+ seater B787 can't cross the pacific either.

      Delete
    3. If there is a variant of the B787 that can work for CEB it is the 787-9 which sould has the range to corss the pacific. However I also dought it can carry 400+ passengers maybe 320-330 pax maximum.

      Delete
  4. Pansin ko lang, bakit parang maraming Pilipinong Airbus fanboy sa internet. Just an observation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I also do notes that most Pinoy aviation enthusiast are a bit more bias towards airbus. However most airline in the philippines Air Asia PH, Cebu Pac, Airphil and PAL. operate a variant of the A320 family mostly A320-200.

      Delete
    2. Even this website, parang the commenters and even the admin seem to be biased towards Airbus. Not implying that it's a good or bad thing, it's just an observation.

      Pero ang weird din sa Pinas, except for PAL's 777s, fleets here are overwhelmingly Airbus. Di tulad sa Indonesia, Malaysia, o Thailand na halong Boeing at Airbus (Lion/MH/Garuda for Boeing, AirAsia for Airbus).

      Delete
    3. Nagtatanong ako kasi merong Filipino commenter sa Airliners.net, mukhang big A330Neo fanboy siya. Kasi gusto niyang iorder ng PAL ang A330-800 kahit wala na tong order mula sa kahit anong airline. This was the reason I mentioned above that it sounds dubious that PAL would order the A330-800: because it's an orphan model that no airline has any orders for at the moment (after Hawaiian cancelled). I really don't get why he's pushing PAL to get the A330-800 (he's been doing it for months now) when no one seems to be interested right now.

      Delete
    4. Blame that to Airlines that are Airbus fanboys themselves. But seriously, Airbus planes did wonders for them, thus repeat orders. Whatever works is in the table. That's why we are seeing new Boeing 777 too, and most likely not the A330-800 even if it has more range to fly than the -900. As PAL said, the economics is not simply there.

      Delete
  5. I am a super big fan of 777 family. We are talking about fleet rationalisation here. The issue is whether or not A330neo is applicable to PAL existing and future network operations. Not, whether we are a fanboy of Airbus or Boeing.
    Furthermore, as you all noticed why is it most of the airlines in PH is using Airbus? It is because of accessibility in MRO. There was a post here in this very blog about airbus investing in PH about MRO, even in China or SG.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also read somewhere that back then, PAL and CebPac were interested in the 737, but Boeing wouldn't give then a good deal, so they went with the A320 instead.

      Delete
    2. I just don't understand why that one Airliners.net user is such a fan of the A330-800 and keeps talking about it when at the moment no airline wants it anymore. If PAL is ever gonna get the A330neo (which I think is unlikely in the short term since their A330s are still relatively new, but is quite possible in the medium-to-long term), it will most likely be the -900 and not the -800, so I don't really understand why he likes the -800 so much.

      Delete
  6. Very biased reporting, with lightly researched facts.

    ReplyDelete
  7. PAL should be more open in catering transiting passengers (ex. LHR-MNL-SYD/MEL/BNE/AKL rather than serving only overseas Filipinos. Market for OF is only ripe during holidays and that's the reason they cannot sustain routes in the long run. Filipino travelers are price sensitive and therefore, will not shun PAL if they find a more cheaper flight regardless if they will endure stopovers or long layover.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From what I've read on the topic, they actually want to cater to connecting passengers, but their plans are hindered by: 1. insufficient aircraft or schedules (this is where the A321neos will come into play: it will allow them to have more frequent schedules with more appropriately-sized aircraft), and 2. slot constraints at NAIA. Once Manila's new airport opens, expect PAL/CebPac to expand rapidly as they no longer have to deal with NAIA's capacity problems.

      Delete
    2. i dreamed of LHR-CEB-SYD

      Delete
  8. PAL first A350-900 delivery schedule has been published.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/Airlineroute/status/1012550989851709441

    ReplyDelete