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First Look: ITA Airways Takes Delivery of First Airbus A330neo

The Italian carrier has welcomed its first Airbus A330-900 after a delivery ceremony in Toulouse, France

by Matteo Legnani

May 26, 2023

Photo: Courtesy of Matteo Legnani

ITA Airways celebrated a significant milestone, receiving the first Airbus A330-900 in a grand ceremony at the manufacturer’s headquarters in Toulouse, France.

The delivery comes just a day after the airline inked a significant deal with Lufthansa, in which the German group agreed to a 41 percent stake transaction for €325m of the Italian carrier through a capital increase.

ITA Airways, committed to an all-Airbus fleet, selected the neo variant of the popular twin-engined, wide-body aircraft, joining its existing fleet of A220, A320neo, A321neo, and A350-900 models.

Honoring Olympic marathon gold medalist Gelindo Bordin, the inaugural A330-900 is the first of 17 aircraft (10 direct purchases from Airbus and seven leased from Air Lease Corporation) to join ITA Airways over the next four years.

Photo: Economy Class seat, ITA Airways, Airbus A330neo. Courtesy of ITA Airways.

Chief Technical Officer Francesco Presicce stated that the last aircraft will be inducted into the fleet by 2027.

Some of the new arrivals will replace the aging A330-200s inherited from the defunct Alitalia, which will be phased out by the end of 2025, while others will bolster the long-haul fleet, expanding the airline’s global reach.

Marking a momentous occasion, the first revenue flight of the brand-new A330-900 is scheduled for June 8, embarking on a journey from Rome-Fiumicino to New York- JFK. The second aircraft is anticipated to arrive in the coming days, enabling ITA Airways to extend its services to Miami, Sao Paulo, and Delhi in the following weeks.

By the end of this year, nine A330-900s will be operational within the ITA Airways fleet.

First Look: New Business Class

Business Traveler had the privilege of joining the ferry flight that transported the A330-900 from Toulouse to its new home at Rome-Fiumicino Airport on May 26. This firsthand experience allowed for an exploration of ITA Airways’ choices in configuring its latest aircraft.

Photo: Business Class, ITA Airways, Airbus A330neo. Courtesy of ITA Airways.

Distinguishing itself from the existing A350-900s, the A330-900 boasts three separate cabins instead of two.

While the larger A350 solely offers Economy and Business class, the A330-900 introduces 30 seats in Business, 24 in Premium Economy, and 237 in Economy.

The disparity in cabin products between both planes—particularly on long-haul routes served by both aircraft types—may prove inconvenient for the airline’s premium clientele.

Despite this, Presicce expressed utmost satisfaction with “the first long-range aircraft fully tailored to our specifications, including interior design by Walter Da Silva.”

ITA Airways opted for the Thompson Vantage XL seat in Business Class, upholstered in blue and beige leather. These seats recline into fully-flat beds and come equipped with a 17.3-inch wide in-flight entertainment (IFE) screen featuring Bluetooth wireless audio connectivity.

Photo: Business Class seat, ITA Airways, Airbus A330neo. Courtesy of ITA Airways.

The cabin layout follows a reverse herringbone arrangement, offering a 44-inch pitch and a 1-2-1, all-aisle access configuration.

The Premium Economy cabin showcases 24 Safran Z535i seats in a 2-3-2 configuration, providing one of this class’s most generous seat pitches at 40 inches. In addition, passengers can enjoy a 15.6-inch IFE screen with a Bluetooth audio connection.

Photo: Premium Economy seat, ITA Airways, Airbus A330neo. Courtesy of ITA Airways.

In Economy Class, the first five rows—aptly named ‘Comfort Economy’—offer an increased legroom of 34 inches, while the remainder of the cabin maintains a 31-inch seat pitch.

Each of the 237 Safran Z400 seats is equipped with a 13.3-inch IFE screen and wireless audio connection.

Photo: Economy Class seat, ITA Airways, Airbus A330neo. Courtesy of ITA Airways.

Designer Walter Da Silva paid meticulous attention to the aircraft’s mood lighting system, featuring six scenes throughout the flight: boarding/deplaning, take-off/landing, sunset/night, sunrise, relaxation, and mealtime.

The delivery flight, carrying the callsign AZ8949, departed Toulouse-Blagnac Airport at 5:37 pm on its way to Rome-Fiumicino, where it’s expected to land at 7:00 pm local time.

With the arrival of the Airbus A330-900, ITA Airways solidifies its commitment to rejuvenating its fleet and providing enhanced travel experiences for passengers across its expanding global network.

With the Italian carrier joining the strong Lufthansa Group, the future seems a lot brighter.