A330-800neo rolls out

Airbus in early February rolled out the first A330-800neo, msn 1888, from the paint shop. The aircraft will now have its Rolls- Royce Trent 7000 engines hung and be prepared for ground and flight testing. Airbus plans to fly the variant by mid-2018. The A330-800neo is the second A330neo variant, with 257 seats in three-class configuration or up to a maximum of 406 seats. It will have 7,500 nautical miles (13,890km) range with a 242,000kg (533,519lb) maximum take-off weight. Sales of A330-800neo have been weak so far, with just six examples sold to Hawaiian Airlines. The stablemate A330- 900neo, which flew last October, is in flight testing and is due for certification and service entry later this year. Mark Broadbent

Single African air transport market

Twenty-three African nations on January 29 launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which aims to facilitate the free movement of commercial aircraft in Africa. The arrangement is expected to improve connectivity, stimulate demand and make air travel more accessible, increasing volumes of trade and tourism and growing African commerce. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the move, but cautioned the benefits will only be realised with implementation and urged the remaining 32 African Union member nations to come on board. Regional heavyweights already signed up include Ethiopia, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria. African airlines are growing, and 2017 traffic rose 7.5% compared to 2016 according to IATA, but Africa only has a 2% share of global passenger traffic. Guy Martin

Zambia Airways revival

Ethiopian Airlines will help Zambia relaunch its national airline after signing an agreement with the Zambian government in mid- January that saw it acquire a 45% stake in Zambia Airways. The government-owned Zambia Airways was liquidated in 1994. The Zambian government estimated the cost of resuscitating the airline at $30 million. Guy Martin

Niki update

Updating the item carried in the Back Pages section of the February 2018 issue about the Austrian airline Niki, Air Berlin’s administrators have reached a deal to sell Niki to Laudamotion rather than the International Airlines Group (IAG). A sale of Niki to IAG was agreed late last year, but administrators reopened the bidding process and Laudamotion, the company run by Niki’s founder, ex-Formula One driver Niki Lauda, was selected by creditors in the new process.

Correction: MRJ testing

A correction from the February 2018 issue commercial news: there are four flight test MRJs now undertaking flight testing at Moses Lake, not three, and one of the two additional test MRJs is c/n 10010, not c/n 10007. Mark Broadbent