For our next trip, we’re going long-haul so Oman Air will mostly likely take you there in one of its Airbus A330s. But who or what is Airbus? Well it’s a division of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company (EADS) and it’s worth noting that this company is owned by three different countries i.e. it was created in July 2000 by merging Aerospatiale Matra of France, DASA of Germany and CASA of Spain, but for legal reasons it is registered in a fourth country, the Netherlands!
First of all a bit of history. The A330s origin dates back as far as the 1970s as one of several conceived derivatives of Airbus’s first airliner, the A300. It was then developed as the first airliner offered with the choice of three engines.
The A330-300, the first variant took its maiden flight in November 1992 and entered passenger service with Air Inter in January 1994 on the route between Paris’ Orly airport and Marseille in France. The A330-300 has a range of 10,500 kms with 295 passengers in the 3-class cabin configuration. However, Airbus followed this with the slightly shorter A330-200 variant in 1998 which proved more popular. By comparison it has a range of 7,400 to 13,430 kms with 253 passengers in a 3-class cabin.
Then on 2nd April 2007 Oman Air announced it had placed an order for 5 x Airbus A330 aircraft for delivery and at the Dubai Air Show of the same year the order was finalized for three A330-300s and two A330-200s. Meanwhile, in February 2009 it was announced that two A330-200s would be leased from Jet Airways but they would have only Business and Economy-class seats.
And sure enough on 15th September, 2009 the first A330-200 was handed over to Oman Air at the Toulouse Air Show. It had a two-class layout, ie Business and Economy providing space for 216 passengers, i.e 20 in Business-class and 196 in Economy. This configuration does make for comfortable and spacious seating, particularly with its 1:2:1 configuration in Business class, the latter being better than First-class with some airlines! And if you didn’t know already Oman Air has won the award for the Best Business Class seat award 2011!
As of May 2012 the Oman Air fleet consists of the following A330s: 4 x A330-200s and 3 x A330-300s.
The A330 series does seem to have a rosy order book until at least 2015.