MIAMI — Kuwait Airways is a new Airbus A330-800neo customer. The European planemaker announced at a press conference in Toulouse that the Middle Eastern carrier has placed a Purchase Agreement (PA) for eight Airbus A330-800neo aircraft.

Kuwait Airways, the national carrier of the State of Kuwait, already has orders for A350XWB and A320neos.

The airline is set to take delivery of it’s first next-generation Airbus planes in 2019, kick-starting the next phase of its fleet renewal and expansion plans.

Yousef Al-Jassim, Kuwait Airways Chairmen said during the conference that “The A330-800 will seamlessly fit into our fleet expansion and growth plans. Its unbeatable operating economics and performance in addition to best in class passenger comfort make it a sound investment.”

Interestingly enough, however, Kuwait Airways is the second client for the A330-800neo—an airplane that has failed to sell. The bigger variant, the A330-900neo, however, has sold quite well.

“We are confident that the A330-800 will support us to compete effectively on our expanding route network. Our relationship with Airbus extends beyond aircraft acquisitions and we look forward to further collaboration on technical fields,” he added.

Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer (COO) noted that Airbus is “delighted that Kuwait Airways has chosen the A330neo as a cornerstone of its future widebody fleet.”

This was the first announcement for  as Airbus’s new COO.

“The aircraft will seamlessly complement Kuwait Airways’  A320neos and A350 XWBs and deliver unbeatable operating economics, full operational commonality, and unmatched passenger experience.”

The A330neo Program

The Airbus A330neo program was launched at the Farnborough Airshow in 2014, as an upgrade to the current A330 series of aircraft.

Since then, Airbus has logged orders for 224 aircraft, with pretty much all of them being for the -900 variant.

The -800 variant has been struggling to pick up any orders. Originally Hawaiian Airlines had shown interest for six A330-800neos, but the carrier ultimately decided to cancel the order and purchase Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners instead.

Hawaiian Airlines was the launch customer of the Airbus A330-800neo. In October last 2017, Hawaiian’s former CEO, Mark Dunkerley, admitted that “it is a good time now to be looking at alternatives” to the A330-800neo now that “Hawaiian’s business has evolved.”

Hawaiian was also the only customer of the Airbus A350-800. But when the manufacturer canceled the smallest variant of the A350 program, the airline was given the opportunity to get the A330-800neo instead.

Today’s announcement is a lifeline to the -800neo variant but does not guarantee that Airbus will keep it living much further past the deliveries of the eight ordered airframes.

Kuwait Airways joins Uganda Airlines as the two sole operators of the A330-800neo.