DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the Airbus A330-300 was introduced into service with launch customer Air Inter (IT) in 1994. It operated its first service between Paris Orly (ORY) and Marseille (MRS).
The French domestic carrier had ordered five of the type on March 12, 1987, with options for another 15 for US$100m. This allowed Airbus to formally launch the A330 and its sister-ship, the four-engined Airbus A340, the following day. It would become the last aircraft type to join the fleet.
Air Inter had already operated a wide-bodied jet with the A300. Twenty-two of the type would be in the fleet at its peak, and the airline could frequently fill all 314-seats. Thus IT wanted a replacement for the airliner, and the A330 was the perfect fit.
However, at the time, IT had a monopoly on French domestic routes. The carrier was a forerunner to today’s low-cost airlines with its quick turnarounds, no-frills inflight service, minimum crews, and cheap fares. Then, on January 1, 1995, the French government opened these routes to other airlines, and Air Inter’s need for these large jets began to diminish.
Air France Takeover
Only four from the initial order would ever be placed into service. In January 1990, IT became part of the Air France (AF) Group.
By late 1995 the airline was looking to sell off its fleet of 400-seat jets. It also requested that Airbus delay delivery of the remaining A330s until after 1998 as the airline reviewed its requirements.
On April 1, 1997, Air Inter and its fleet of A330s would be absorbed into AF. However, AF would not take on the A330s. F-GMDA, F-GMDB, and F-GMDC would go to Sabena (SN). F-GMDD and the undelivered F-GMDE would fly with Aer Lingus (EI).
Featured image: F-GMDC pictured here would go on to serve with Sabena and its successor SN Brussels Airlines as OO-SFO. (Photo: Aero Icarus from Zürich, Switzerland, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)