National carrier Air Namibia has announced that it will take delivery of its first of two brand new Airbus A330-200 on 25 September as part of a fleet modernisation programme that began two years ago.
The Airbus A330-200 aircraft, which will be leased from US-based lessor Intrepid Aviation, will be used primarily on Air Namibia's only long-haul route between Windhoek and Frankfurt replacing the two Airbus A340-300 aircraft whose lease agreement expires in October.
Delivery of the second aircraft is expected sometime in November.
Air Namibia said the Airbus A330-200 aircraft is an economically efficient aircraft popular with airlines around the world.
The airline said the aircraft is ideal for its operations as it continues to explore ways of reducing operation costs. With the introduction of the two aircraft to its fleet, Air Namibia expects to save up to N$510 million in operating costs over a five -year period representing monthly savings of N$8.5 million.
Head of Corporate Communications Paulus Nakawa said:"The fleet upgrade ties in with our network expansion and frequency increase plans, using aircraft with a combination of low operating costs, high efficiency, flexibility, customer appeal and optimized performance."
The A330-200 aircraft offers 30 business class and 214 economy class seats as well as in-flight entertainment and flat bed seats which, when fully reclined, creates a bed that is fully flat.
Air Namibia said the introduction of the Airbus A330-200 planes will improve significantly its on-board products contributing to meeting customer needs more optimally.
Xavier Masule, the General Manager for Commercial Services at Air Namibia said the Airbus A330-200 was found to be the most suitable for the airline's operations and conditions given the aircraft's lower operating cost, high dispatch reliability, flexibility and appeal to customers.
The Airbus A330-200 is said to offer about 20% lower cost compared to the A340-300 because of its lower maximum take off weight of 230,000 kg compared to 257,000 kg of the A340-300, meaning lower landing fees and navigation charges.
Cost savings will also come from lower fuel burn as the aircraft has two engines compared to four engines in the previous aircraft. The two engines will also result in lower maintenance costs while there will be easy migration for pilots from the A340-300 because of fleet commonality.
The new aircraft will reduce available seats by 34 seats or 12% of the current capacity, but the old aircraft have brought some financial headaches to the airline after frequently going for unscheduled as well as scheduled maintenance.