Assembly of Airbus’ first A330 Regional aircraft for launch customer Saudi Arabian Airlines is underway at its final assembly line in Toulouse, the aircraft manufacturer said on Tuesday.
The aircraft is the first of 20 A330-300 Regional that Saudia ordered last year.
It is now in the initial fuselage section joining phase and will move to the next assembly station for wing junction, start of cabin installation and first power-on.
Airbus declined to reveal when delivery is expected to take place.
Specifically designed for regional and domestic operations, the A330-300 Regional can seat up to 400 passengers on missions up to 3,000 nm. It offers a reduced operational weight of around 200 tonnes.
The reduction in fuel burn per seat and maintenance costs will result in an overall cost reduction by up to 26 per cent compared with today’s long-range A330-300, Airbus claimed.
The Regional also benefits from the latest A350 XWB and A380 technologies.
The new aircraft is expected to boost capacity on several of Saudia’s routes. In addition to the 20 A330-300 Regional, the Saudi national carrier has also placed an order for 30 A320ceo.
Currently in the process of a major expansion drive, Saudia expects to receive 29 new aircraft this year and hopes to carry more than 30 million passengers in 2016.
It also plans to grow its fleet to around 200 by 2020.