Airbus A330: a successful make-over

Airbus A330: a successful make-over

How marketing saved a potential market gap, just in the nick of time.

Airbus A330
Airbus A330

Marketing success doesn’t always come with well studied campaigns for the introduction of new products on the market. Sometimes an old project – even in a fast paced market – can still be the key to success, if the appropriate marketing strategy is devised and put creatively into place.

This particular story begins in 1994, when in the world of aviation a new Airbus plane was born, the “A330“. The solid structure of the aircraft and its operational and safety efficiency made this project an International success.
The product remained successfully positioned in the market for decades, but the aviation world – in its constant mode of change – soon dictated the need to keep up with times and competition.

In 2004, in fact, Airbus’ main competitor – Boeing – announced their new jetliner, the “Dreamliner B787“, positioned to cover part of Airbus’ market. This B787 aircraft aimed at introducing innovative composite materials on the main frame, coupling them with advanced technologies.  Airbus, in an effort to immediately counter this, started working on a new project: the “A350” .
In a very complex market, such as the aviation market, old must quickly make room for new and it soon became clear that, after decades, the A330’s crew might have to prepare the aircraft for its very last landing.

However, things didn’t really go that way.

“In 2004, when the B787 and the A350 were launched as on TOP, everyone in the world said this would kill the A330. Since then we have sold more than a 1000 A330s. We pushed the 300 to be a real best-of a cash maker A / C ever”

Patrice Boyer, Head of Cabin Optimization & Guidance for the Airbus A330 Cabin Sales & Marketing Support
(interview by Zara Carletto, 10 Nov., 2016)

Due to technical and development reasons, both the Airbus A350 line and the Boeing Dreamliner B787 (later nick-named by many in the industry: “7 Late 7″) experienced heavy manufacturing delays.
And while the two giants frantically tried to launch these new products, in the world of aviation something shocking was happening: the first Low Cost airlines (Virgin, Ryanair, EasyJet) were taking off and were giving birth to a whole new way of traveling.

Ryanair Low Cost Airline

The market suddenly changed its route and the demand for aircraft recorded a peak of requests as never seen before. Travelling by plane was no longer considered a luxury for few, it quickly became a means of transport accessible to all.  Passengers were beginning to prefer quantity over quality and were prepared to exchange the convenience of a First Class with an Economy class that would take them anywhere, at a lower price.

It was then that Airbus, after a careful market analysis, realised they had a market opportunity that others didn’t have.

The market needed more aircrafts, large configurations able to accommodate more passengers and it needed them fast.
The A330 configuration had everything the market needed. The Airbus team looked at its A330, identified the Key Selling Points that had made the model a success in the past, and decided to improve the points that needed a better response for the new market requirements.

“The A330 came back on the market as a timeless classic, it featured new engines, new technologies, a new lighting system, a new look of Cabin Interior, with a simplified and more densified passenger arrangement and aimed to respond to all the demands of the market. With these few, but vital, touch-ups, the A330 became the best way to cater to the need for new long-haul aircraft while waiting for the new ones to roll out.  Airbus here showed particular genius, because they also made sure that there was commonality between the A330 and the A350, thus ensuring that the logical path was to acquire A330 now and place onward orders for the A350″

– Doria De Chiara, Geven Aircraft Interiors Business Development Manager
(interview by Zara Carletto, 10 Nov., 2016)

And so it was that, as many of the great classics of history, such as the Italian Fiat 500 or the Volkswagen Beetle both recently re-designed,  the A330 was back on track, ready to meet the needs of all. Just in time.

Airbus restored an old product which was ready to be dismissed to its former glory, proving that knowing where your market is and where it is going, can lead you to adapt and adjust your value proposition and successfully fit with the new market needs.


Zara Carletto linkedin

Zara Carletto

MSc in Marketing at Trinity Business School. Aviation enthusiast.