The newest member of Airbus’s A330neo family of aircraft, the A330-800, took its maiden voyage yesterday, ahead of its anticipated delivery some time in 2019.

The aircraft flew for four hours and four minutes before landing back at Airbus’s facility at Toulouse-Blagnac in France.

Based on Airbus’s A330-200 series of aircraft, the A330-800 is designed to accommodate about 257 passengers in a typical three-class twin-aisle configuration – 30 fewer than its larger A330-900 sibling. The A330-900 is due to enter service later this year with launch customer TAP Portugal.

The aircraft notably features the Airspace by Airbus cabin interior, which comprises a customisable entrance, ambient LED lighting, new toilets and the latest in-flight entertainment (IFE) system.

Its range of 8,150 nautical miles (15,000km) and 17 hours’ flying time puts non-stop routes from South East Asia to Europe and the US West Coast within its reach. The A330-800 is designed to compete with Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner series, while also enabling airlines to phase out their older A330-200s.

“The A330-800 is an exceptionally versatile ‘route opener’, offering unbeatable economics for airlines – encompassing everything from short to very-long haul widebody missions,” said Airbus Commercial Aircraft president, Guillaume Faury.

The aircraft is expected to receive certification next year, Faury added.

Last month, Kuwait Airways signed an agreement to order eight A330-800s, and appears likely to be the launch customer for the new aircraft when deliveries begin next year.

Airbus currently has a combined order for 224 A330neo aircraft across 14 different customers.