A South African Airways Airbus A330-200. Picture: THE TIMES
A South African Airways Airbus A330-200. Picture: THE TIMES

London/Kuwait — Airbus won a contract from Kuwait Airways for its A330-800 aircraft model, securing a vital deal for the struggling programme at the expense of a reduced order for the jet’s bigger sibling.

Kuwait Air agreed to buy eight A330neos while paring a commitment for the larger A350 from 10 planes to five, according to a statement on Monday.

The order from the Persian Gulf-carrier secures a first customer for the smaller variant of the re-engined A330 after Hawaiian Airlines — the only previous buyer — scrapped a purchase agreement earlier this year and switched to a fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

Airbus has been battling to drum up customers for the A330neo as Boeing seeks to undercut the programme in order to sell more 787s and make space for a new middle-of-the-market model nicknamed the 797. The European company has got 224 orders for its aircraft, all involving the larger -900 version that is due to enter service in coming weeks.

Kuwait Airways will take its A330s from 2019. The fleet plan now includes the eight A330neos and five A350s, plus 10 Boeing 777s and 15 Airbus A320neo narrow-bodies.