The #Airbus #A338Neo – The technical details of what #Uganda is getting


(Posted 21st December 2020 – Reporting from Toulouse / France)

When Uganda Airlines is taking formal delivery of an Airbus A330-800Neo this evening, will the country get one of the most advanced machines ever built in aviation history and in the process become Africa’s launch customer for this aircraft type.

What makes the difference between a properly financed start up airline company, and a poorly financed upstart, is that the latter tries to enter the market with often very aged fuel guzzlers – aircraft bought by them on the cheap from previous owners ditching them over fuel and maintenance cost – while the former buys brand new aircraft – knowing that the market will respond positively and switch loyalty to superior comfort, excellent dispatch reliability and savings on operational expenses which make the per seat cost the most effective in the market, then reflected in lower market fares.

Questions over a series of articles spanning the last few months came in by the hundreds to explain the technical capabilities of this aircraft type and its advantages over its closest rivals in use right now.

Just ahead of Uganda taking possession of the new aircraft – the airline has two on order – will ATCNews today respond to these questions and provide the details many aviation enthusiasts in Uganda, across East Africa and the rest of the continent and beyond have been waiting for.

Compared to a possible maximum seating capacity of 406 will the Uganda Airlines version cap passenger seating to just 258 – i.e. 148 less than the maximum possible – separated into three main cabins.

The state of the art – and this is no overstatement but a fact – business class cabin offers a 1 x 2 x 1 layout, rivalled only by aviation’s best of the best like five star airline Qatar Airways, while carriers like KLM give their premium passengers a inferior 2 x 2 x 2 seating, which feels crammed in comparison and denies passengers that treasured additional space and comfort.

In Premium Economy does this generosity again become apparent. Uganda Airlines offers a separate 21 seat cabin – with separating cabin walls and not a flimsy see-through panel hung from the ceiling – giving passengers a 2 x 3 x 2 seat layout. The seats Uganda Airlines has chosen are wider, recline more and have footrests while for instance KLM crams 8 seats in a row, without foot rests in what they coyly call ‘Economy Komfort‘.

The latest ergonomic seats are then available in regular economy class with a 2 x 4 x 2 layout, numbering to 210. This makes it 8 seats abreast compared to seating in other wide bodies of this size which often seat 9 abreast.

In recent years have environmental concerns over the aviation industry often been pushed to the fore in public discussions over the pros and cons of flying. The Airbus A338Neo offers massive reduction of greenhouse gases while in the air over the A332Ceo version, but also other technical advances such as:

  • 14 percent reduction in CO2 emissions per seat
  • 13.6 EPNdB noise margin to Chapter 4 aircraft
  • 27% NOx emissions below CAEP/6 standards
  • Quietest cabin in the mid sized wide body market by 3db over rival B787

Leveraging on the latest available technology developed when the Airbus A350XWB was launched, has the A338Neo incorporated additional features which save airlines money such as a type commonality with the larger A339Neo and other Airbus aircraft families.

Uganda Airlines plans to launch long haul operations in January 2021 with Dubai becoming the first such destination.
This will be followed by flights to London, a route where the airline will enjoy a monopoly, flights to Mumbai / India and to Guangzhou in China when the second aircraft is delivered.
It is understood that Uganda Airlines is considering adding an EU waypoint enroute to London in the future to not only increase passenger and cargo loads but also to tap into the travel potential of visitors to Uganda.

While the ongoing pandemic clearly has seen air travel depressed, brings the rollout of vaccines and the planned widespread vaccinations next year in key European and other global tourism source markets a ray of hope on the horizon and promises a return to pre-pandemic travel levels in the coming years.

At that stage will Uganda Airlines be well positioned to take advantage of the renewed taste for travel to adventure destinations like Uganda, especially in combination with visits to neighbouring countries in East Africa – the airline serves all key destinations in the region – where a common cost effective tourist Visa is available.

For now does ATCNews wish Uganda Airlines and the new aircraft, its crews and passengers happy landings, always.

Additional questions are welcome via the comment section of this article.

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