AeroNewsX has learnt that Royal Brunei Airlines has returned its A330-900neo to its lessor, HiFly. While the airline has yet to confirm this information, the aircraft registered CS-TKY, has returned to Beja Airport in Portugal, likely due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Royal Brunei Airlines became the first customer for HiFly’s new Airbus A330-900neo back in late-September 2019. The new aircraft replaced a Wamos Air Airbus A330-200 that had been with the carrier since early-August.
The A330-900neo was on wet-lease to Royal Brunei until November 2019, a date that was quietly extended.
This could just be a temporary grounding amid the coronavirus crisis, but returning the plane to Beja Airport for a temporary grounding doesn’t make sense. Similar to other airlines, Royal Brunei is looking to cut services – and retiring its ‘temporary’ A330-900neo was the way to do it.
In a press release, Royal Brunei Airlines said it will operate ‘a revised and substantially reduced flying program across March and April.’ From 22 March onwards, the carrier will slash its network, only operating to Singapore, Melbourne, Hong Kong and Manila from Brunei. Prior to the global coronavirus outbreak, the carrier operated to 30 destinations worldwide. From tomorrow, the carrier’s network will shrink by almost 85%.
The Lufthansa Group had announced earlier this week that it will be temporarily grounding around 700 of its 763 aircraft. The announcement came as the group announced its results for 2019, reporting an adjusted EBIT of EUR2 billion, “in line with the forecast despite considerable charges”. Frankfurt Airport will be closing one of its runways and the adjacent taxiway to park some of Lufthansa’s grounded aircraft. The remaining aircraft will go to Berlin Schönefeld Airport and possibly other airports in Europe.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon had, due to the coronavirus, announced that they would be cutting 96% of capacity on their passenger networks in April and May.
We have reached out to Royal Brunei Airlines for a comment.