Photo: Eurospot

TOULOUSE — The wet-leasing specialist airline, HiFly, took delivery of its first of a possible 10 Airbus A330-900neo aircraft yesterday at the Airbus delivery center in Toulouse-Blagnac, France.

The plane, bearing the registration CS-TKY, joins the Portuguese carrier through a leasing agreement with Air Lease Corporation.

“HiFly is preparing for a busy future and we are delighted to welcome this new Airbus A330neo into our fleet,” said Paulo Mirpuri, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer.

These new A330neo aircraft are due to replace HiFly’s existing fleet, which is due to fully start by 2022.

Insider Access To The HiFly A330neo

The configuration that HiFly has chosen in this aircraft is a total of 371 seats broken down as a 3-3-3 configuration in economy class of 353 seats and a 2-2-2 fully-flat seat configuration for a business class of 18 seats.

This configuration was specifically chosen as it matches what HiFly’s customers want. The airplane offers a high-density configuration while also providing a spacious cabin and maximum comfort with a lower cost per seat that many other mid-size aircraft. 

All 371 seats have the last generation inflight entertainment ZODIAC RAVE IFE System Generation 3.

Alongside the low seat price of the Airbus A330neo family, the A330neo’s efficiency can save customers easily $1000 – $1500 per hour of use.

First Operator: Undisclosed

HiFly has already begun marketing its new A330-900neo and has already signed the first customer but they have undisclosed who that is due to contractual reasons. However, this customer should be unveiled within the upcoming 2 to 3 weeks.

Mirpuri did state that one of the first carriers due to use the aircraft is in the Far East, and this operator currently does not have any A330neo aircraft in service.

Airways asked how well the Airbus A380 is doing for HiFly, to which Mirpuri responded that “The A380 is doing well with it being a niche market aircraft. It primarily operates North Atlantic routes between Europe and the United States. We are also looking at adding more A380s to our fleet as they become available. These will be added in accordance with the current market.”

Following the delivery ceremony, and awards provided by Airbus, HiFly, Rolls Royce and Air Lease Corporation, Airways attended the Airbus Delivery Centre and had a walk-around of the aircraft.

The livery has a style that is very similar to a corporate jet, which looks extremely professional and very appealing to any customer who wishes to wet-lease the aircraft.

The cabin is extremely spacious and clean, which will provide customers the highest amount of comfort possible, whilst also ensuring safety is kept as a priority.

Overview Of The A330neo Market Potential

At the start of the delivery ceremony in Toulouse, the Marketing Director for the Airbus A330neo aircraft, Crawford Hamilton, ran through the specifications of the aircraft with an overview of other operators and how successful Airbus believes the aircraft will be.

Photo: Eurospot

Airbus first outlined that between the Airbus A330-800neo and A330-900neo there is 99% commonality, which when it comes to the operation of both aircraft for an airline, it will play a key factor. According to the manufacturer, the operators will not need to train crews separately on each variant, as the general training provides pilots with a type rating to fly both specifications.

So far, the A330neo family aircraft has had 316 orders and commitments from 21 different operators, alongside the corporate market.

With regards to the corporate market, Airbus stated that this specific segment is small. However, Airbus will still offer the A330neo as a corporate product for those customers who wish to purchase one.

Out of the 316 orders for the A330neo family aircraft, the A330-900neo takes the top spot with 306 orders so far and the A330-800neo at a small 10.

Airbus continued to state that the reason that they believe the A330-800neo is low on orders at the moment is the aircraft that it is replacing, the A330-200, has a young market age of around 10 years old.

Airbus estimates that the peak replacement period for the current A330 aircraft family will be around 2033, due to the current average age of those aircraft in the present market.

Airbus expects that around that period, the orders for the A330neo family aircraft will increase dramatically, to eventually replace 1400 – 1500 A330 aircraft that are currently in service.

Outlining the current operators and the already-announced customers that have ordered the Airbus A330neo aircraft—such as Delta, Air Senegal, Air Asia X, Corsair, Kuwait Airways, MEA, Virgin Atlantic, Iran Air, Garuda Indonesia, and Arkia Israeli—HiFly manages Air Senegal’s current A330neo aircraft, which is proving to be extremely successful for them.

After the presentation with Hamilton, the current CEO and President of HiFly, Paulo Mirpuri, joined the room to do a small Q&A session.

The first question that was asked was regarding HiFly’s “Turn the Tide on Plastic” scheme, and why they have a large program in place to reduce as much plastic waste as possible to save our oceans.

Mirpuri commented that HiFly wants to promote some of these ocean-related causes because they are “very close to HiFly and the Mirpuri family” through the Mirpuri Foundation.

Following the “Turn the Tide on Plastic” scheme, HiFly believes that when clients lease their aircraft, they start to think of news ways on how to reduce plastic waste.

HiFly was also the first operator to complete a plastic-free long-haul flight back in December 2018. HiFly wishes to become carbon neutral by 2021 onwards for all of their flights.

Mirpuri continued to talk about what that aircraft symbolizes for HiFly and the reasons why this specification was selected.

Due to HiFly’s wide range of wet-leasing clientele, the wet-leasing airline wanted a neutral livery that looks professional and clean to reach an even further range of customers. HiFly’s aircraft mostly operate for airlines and governmental charters. 

Following the delivery ceremony, the aircraft was flown from Toulouse to Lisbon, Portugal where the aircraft will then undergo a 10-day certification process with HiFly before entering commercial services.