Airbus is seeing "strong interest" in its lower-weight variant of the A330-300 from both Chinese and other carriers, and reiterates that the aircraft is "optimised" for busy regional routes.

"The new lower take-off weight version of the A330 is optimised for use on busy short- to medium-range routes, especially in high growth markets," says Airbus.

It says that operators of the variant will benefit from "a proven and very reliable aircraft" that besides being able to offer "exceptional operating economics", will also be available in the near term.

"These features will give the aircraft a significant advantage on regional routes over competing types designed for longer-range services," it says. "In fact, the A330 Regional has no real competitor."

The comments from Airbus come in response to a Boeing executive's claim that it was "insulting" for the airframer to pitch the Chinese an aircraft using "obsolete technology" and with a 25-30% higher fuel burn compared with newer types, as a solution for airport infrastructure congestion in the country.

Airbus had launched the lower-weight variant of the A330-300 at the Aviation Expo in Beijing this September. It marketed the aircraft, which will have a lower maximum take-off weight of 200t and a reduced range of 3,000nm (5,550km), as a solution for the problems posed by China's shortage of pilots, congested airports and growth in air traffic.

It has said that the reduction in fuel burn per seat and maintenance costs on the variant is expected to be 15% lower than that of today's long-range A330-300 variants. The aircraft will enter into service by 2015.

“Although this variant was launched at the Beijing Airshow, the aircraft is by no means exclusively offered to Chinese airlines. We are seeing strong interest in the new variant from carriers in a number of countries, including China,” says Airbus. However it declined to discuss any potential orders: “We will announce orders as and when they are finalised," it says.

Source: Cirium Dashboard