In the first half of this article celebrating the 50th anniversary of Airbus, I talked about its first few aircraft types – the A300, A310, A320 Series, and A340. In this part, I’ll cover the remaining types – the A330, A380, A350, and A220.
Just like in the first part, I will take a brief look at the history and my favorite photo of, as well as the flights that I took on each of the types.
Before continuing, though, I have to share the cool video featuring a formation flight of five different Airbus aircraft types that the manufacturer produced to celebrate the important milestone once again.
— Airbus (@Airbus) May 30, 2019
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The Airbus A330 was developed more or less simultaneously with the four-engined A340 with which it shares a variety of components including the wing and fuselage. The A330 took off for the first time in 1992, and it entered into service with Air Inter (an airline that was later integrated into Air France) in January 1994.
In addition to the two original variants of what is now the A330ceo – the initial A330-300 and the shorter A330-200 – Airbus also introduced the re-engined A330neo at Farnborough Airshow in 2014. The A330-900neo based on the A330-300 flew for the first time in October 2017 and entered into service with TAP a bit more than a year later.
To date, almost 1,500 airframes – both of the original A330ceo and the new A330neo – were manufactured. With over 60 airframes, Turkish Airlines is the largest operator of the type, followed by Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Delta Air Lines.
My Favorite A330 Photo
D-AERK / LTU / Airbus A330-300 / Dusseldorf Airport, Germany / July 2007
Dusseldorf airport was one of my very first plane spotting destinations back when I got started with the hobby more than a decade ago, and since then I visited the airport numerous times. While a lot has changed at the airport since my first visit, one of the most noticeable – and unfortunate given how nice the livery was – things was LTU’s change of livery and later complete rebranding to Air Berlin. On the photo, one of the airline’s A330s still wearing the original red livery is seen blasting off runway 23L.
The A330 and I
With over 30 Airbus A330 flights logged, the type is my most frequently flown Airbus wide-body aircraft. While most of the airlines that I flew with on the A330 are still around – or still operate the type – there are two that can’t be seen around anymore.
Those include the Northwest Airlines A330-300 that I flew on from London to Minneapolis and back in 2008, and the Skymark Airlines A330-300 that I flew on from Fukuoka to Tokyo in 2015. The latter of those is especially memorable since Skymark announced that it would be ceasing its A330 operations just two days before it actually did so. And so, never having flown on the all premium economy class aircraft before, I had to act quickly to catch a flight on it.
Airbus A330 Flight Reviews on KN Aviation
- Aeroflot A330-300 Economy Class from Tokyo to Moscow
- Air Canada A330-300 Economy Class from Montreal to Toronto
- AirAsia X A330-300 Business Class Osaka to Honolulu
- AirAsia X A330-300 Economy Class from Honolulu to Osaka
- Cathay Dragon A330-300 Economy Class from Hanoi to Hong Kong
- Finnair A330-300 Economy Class from Nagoya to Helsinki
- Garuda Indonesia A330-300 Business Class from Denpasar to Osaka
- Hong Kong Airlines A330-300 Economy Class from Osaka to Hong Kong
- Iberia A330-200 Economy Class from Madrid to Tokyo
- Qantas A330-300 Economy Class from Brisbane to Tokyo
- Singapore Airlines A330-300 Business Class from Singapore to Delhi
- Skymark Airlines A330-300 Premium Economy from Fukuoka to Tokyo
- Thai Airways A330-300 Business Class from Phuket to Beijing
- Turkish Airlines A330-300 Economy Class from Tokyo to Istanbul
The Airbus A380 program was formally launched in December 2000, and the aircraft flown for the first time in April 2005. Unfortunately, the world’s largest passenger airliner didn’t turn out to be financially successful for Airbus, and so the manufacturer cancelled the program earlier this year with the last one expected to be manufacturer by 2021.
The launch customer of the type was Singapore Airlines which received its first A380 in 2007. The second airline to introduce the “superjumbo” into its fleet was Emirates which is the type’s largest operator.
In fact, with over a hundred A380s in its fleet, Emirates operates almost half of the A380s produced to date. And, it has dozens more on order. Last month, I wrote a guide to flying on the A380 that includes all of the operators, as well as many of the routes that the A380 can be flown on so make sure to check it out if you want to learn more about the type.
My Favorite A380 Photo
A6-EDP / Emirates / Airbus A380-800 / New York JFK Airport, United States / February 2018
Photographing aircraft banking after departing New York JFK’s runway 31L was on my bucket list for a long time. Luckily, the weather cooperated one afternoon during my visit to the city back in February 2018 and – with the help of my friend Raj – I was able to get some photos there. One of my favorite is the one above, depicting an Emirates A380-800 departing bound for Dubai.
The A380 and I
So far, I have flown on the Airbus A380 nine times – and every single time I board one, I am amazed by how massive its wing is. The airlines that I have flown on the A380 with include Asiana Airlines (3 flights), Air France (2), Emirates (2), Etihad Airways (1), and Lufthansa (1).
By far the most memorable one of those was my very first A380 flight that I took together with my friend Philippe back in 2010 when I was still living in Europe. Rather than it being a long-haul flight – or a route regularly operated by the A380 – it was one of Air France’s Paris – London flights that it operated to familiarize its crews with the then new aircraft type. Philippe wrote a report about the flight on his blog The Full Gull, so make sure to check it out.
Airbus A380 Flight Reviews on KN Aviation
- Asiana Airlines A380 Business Class from Tokyo to Seoul
- Asiana Airlines A380 Economy Class from Seoul to New York
- Singapore Airlines A380 New Business Class from Singapore to Hong Kong
- Singapore Airlines A380 Old Business Class from Singapore to Mumbai
- Singapore Airlines A380 Premium Economy from Delhi to Singapore
The newest type in the Airbus portfolio that Airbus designed in-house is the Airbus A350. Airbus’ first aircraft made mainly out of carbon fibre did its first test flight in June 2013, and it was delivered to its launch customer – Qatar Airways – for the first time in January 2015.
Since then, the manufacturer has received orders for about 900 of the type, and has delivered a little more than 250 of those. Besides the original A350-900, Airbus also offers a stretched A350-1000 which entered into service – once again with Qatar Airways – in February 2018.
With more than 30 A350s in their fleets and more on order, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific are the largest operators of the type.
Currently, Cathay Pacific and Qatar Airways are also the only two operators operating both the -900 and -1000, however, that will change in the future as other airlines including Asian Airlines, JAL, and LATAM have both of the variants on order.
My Favorite A350 Photo
N502DN / Delta Air Lines / Airbus A350-900 / Tokyo Narita Airport, Japan / October 2017
Delta Air Lines put its first Airbus A350-900 into service on October 30, 2017, on a flight from Detroit to Tokyo Narita airport. I was lucky enough to see that first arrival from the apron, being able to get some photos of the A350 receiving a water cannon salute. Since then, Delta has deployed the A350 on other routes as well including on flights to Shanghai, Beijing, and Amsterdam.
The A350 and I
While I haven’t flown on the stretched A350-1000 yet, I logged five flights on the original A350-900 to date. I flew on the A350-900 for the first time on a Qatar Airways flight from Doha to Frankfurt, just a couple of months after the airline became the launch customer of the type.
Since then, I also flew on Qatar’s A350-900 from Doha to New York on a very enjoyable business class flight, as well as on Finnair’s from Helsinki to Bangkok, and on Hong Kong Airlines’ from Hong Kong to Los Angeles and back. One of my favorite moments on the Hong Kong Airlines flights was watching the tail cam view of our landing at Los Angeles airport.
Airbus A350 Flight Reviews on KN Aviation
- Finnair A350-900 Business Class from Helsinki to Bangkok
- Hong Kong Airlines A350-900 Economy Class from Hong Kong to Los Angeles
- Qatar Airways A350-900 Business Class from New York to Doha
- Singapore Airlines A350-900 Business Class from Mumbai to Singapore
All of the aircraft mentioned in this article up to this point were designed by Airbus. However, the last one – the A220 – was not. Originally, before acquired a majority stake in the program, the A220 was designed, manufactured, and marketed by Bombardier as the CSeries aircraft before.
The A220 took off for the first time in September 2013 – as Bombardier CS100. This shorter variant is known today as the A220-100. The longer A220-300 – back then Bombardier CS300 – took off for the first time in February 2015. While the shorter A220-100 was first delivered to Swiss, the longer A220-300 was launched by Air Baltic.
Today, about 70 A220s are in operation, and hundreds more are on order. The largest operator of the type are Swiss which has both the -100 and -300 in its fleet and Air Baltic which only operates the longer variant.
Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to fly on the aircraft yet – or even photograph it nicely – and so there is no favorite photo or personal story about the type to share.
With this article done, I would like to congratulate Airbus on achieving this important milestone, and hope the company will keep coming up with innovative aircraft types into the future as well.
Even though there are still some Airbus aircraft types and variants that I haven’t flown on (like the A320neo, A330neo, and so on), I am glad to have been able to fly on most of them at least once. I’m especially happy to have had the chance to fly on the classic A320-100 and A300B2 and on all variants of my favorite Airbus type – the A340.
Which Airbus aircraft type is your favorite?
Do you have any interesting stories from flights you took on Airbus aircraft?
Let me know in the comments down below.