Is Airbus’ A330-800 the longest range widebody under 300 seats?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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March 29, 2018, © Leeham News: Boeing’s 787-9 has opened new ultra-long routes such as Qantas' first flight from Perth in Australia to London Heathrow last weekend (a 7,900nm, 17-hours flight). The 787-9 has been the undisputed long-haul star under 300 seats, with Airbus A350-900ULR underbidding the Boeing 777-200LR’s fuel burn for over 300 seats ultra-long haul flying.

But the competition for below 300 seat ULR alternatives will change in two years. Airbus A330-800 is then available in its 251t version. It will fly longer than the 787-9, according to Airbus.

The range of 7,635nm given by Boeing for the 787-9 and 8,150nm by Airbus for the A330-800 is not using the same seating and fuel reserve rules. We use our performance model to weed out the differences, to make an apples-to-apples comparison of the 787-9 and A330-800 as ULR aircraft.


  • The choice between the 787-9 or A330-800 for Ultra Long-haul Routes (ULR) will depend on the passenger loads which can be expected.
  • For thin routes, the A330-800 will be the cheaper aircraft to operate.
  • It will also fly longer on thin routes, as its large tanks mean passenger capacity can be traded for more fuel further than for a 787-9.
  • When the 787-9 can be filled, it's the choice with the better seat-mile cost, as it should; it's the larger aircraft, spreading fixed costs over more paying passengers.

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