January 5, 2019 – Uganda and European aerospace giant Airbus, have converted an MoU for a pair of A330-neo aircraft into a firm order.
256BN has been told that confirmation of the order, first announced during last years’ edition of the Farnborough Air Show, took place in Entebbe just before Christmas as the parties sought to beat a December 23, deadline. The order is however, yet to be reflected in Airbus official order and deliveries table. There has also been no official communication about the development by both parties.
Failure to confirm the order by that date would have led to forfeiture of the $800,000 deposit Uganda placed on the two airframes when it signed the MoU for purchase rights for two A330-800 twinjets. Other penalties would have involved loss of delivery slots and price escalation.
It is understood that Uganda paid a top-up on the first deposits and signed a purchase agreement. Delivery dates remain December 2020 for the first aircraft, followed by the second one and final delivery in April 2021.
The first A330-800 prototype is now in flight testing having made a maiden flight on November 6. The type will undertake a 300 hour flight test campaign to certification in 2019.
The A330-800 has so far secured commitments for ten aircraft from Uganda Airlines and Kuwait Airways which recently signed up for eight in October.
The -800’s larger family member the A330-900 achieved joint certification by European and US authorities and was handed over launch customer TAP Portugal on November 26.
Dubbed the A330-neo, both variants feature an improved wing and new generation Trent 7000 engines which combined with aerodynamic improvements to the airframe, deliver a 14pc fuel burn advantage over the baseline A330.
Launched in July 2014, the neo’s two versions – the A330-800 and A330-900 – are nominally designed to accommodate 257 and 287 passengers respectively in a three-class layout. They come fitted with the new “Airspace” cabin that features a flat ceiling and larger luggage bins.
Uganda Airlines which is slated to take delivery of the first of four Bombardier CRJ-900’s on February 23 expects to start commercial operations in April 2019.