From a financial perspective, the A380 is possibly the passenger aircraft that will produce the biggest loss for Airbus after achieving less than 300 orders, but in absolute figures the biggest failure to date is called A330-800.
The smaller capacity version of the A330neo, which offers an impressive range of more than 15,000 km, had only 14 orders by the end of 2020, four of them from undisclosed customers. It is even less than the A318, the smallest member of the A320 family, considered one of the European manufacturer’s biggest mistakes, but which had 80 units produced.
After going bankrupt in 2001, the African country’s flag carrier was recreated by the Ugandan government in 2018 and started operations last year with four CRJ-900 jets. The two A330-800s were chosen to restore long-haul flights from 2021.
“Guided by God”
With a land area of 240,000 km² and around 40 million inhabitants, Uganda has a GDP of just under $ 30 billion. That makes the country the 18th richest in Africa, well behind neighbors Kenya and Ethiopia, which inspired the airline’s revival.
In the view of the local government, Uganda Airlines will be instrumental in competing with companies such as Kenya Airways (39 aircraft) and Ethiopian Airlines (125 aircraft) after the failure of negotiations to form an airline that would bring together the countries of East Africa.
The arrival of the A330-800 in the country this week was commemorated by the Ugandan president, Yoweri Museveni, who warned corrupt officials to stay away from the new airline.
Museveni also praised the fact that they had given up ordering the 737 MAX. “I congratulate Ugandans for having your own airline. And to you the staff, I urge you to stop corruption. Don’t allow corruption in the new airlines. I don’t want to hear a smell of corruption in the new Uganda Airlines. And I thank the Airbus for making a new product. We were wise not to buy the other American one – the Boeing which has been crashing and killing people. God is there, he’s the one who guided us,” he said at the ceremony at Entebe Airport, according to local media.
Ideal size in COVID-19 times
Despite the insignificant order numbers, Airbus did not lose sight when listing the attributes of the A330-800. “Thanks to its tailored, mid-sized capacity and its excellent range versatility, the A330neo is considered the ideal aircraft to operate as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery,” said the manufacturer.
All that remains is for hundreds of potential customers to agree with Airbus from now on.