Once again this is about Boeing with an Airbus angle on the line. Airbus has been placed on notice as the 787 matriculates out of Glitch University. The A330 was a bull- pen choice as Boeing fiddled away the years while dialing-in the new technology. The A330 filled that Boeing time gap supplying impatient customers who needed a mid sized two engine wide body with performance. The 787 has moved to the head of the class with Airline afficionados, as the A330 returns back to the bull-pen waiting a second call to pitch in relief in the big leagues. The 787 hopes to retire the A330.
Airbus is now looking at doing a A330 make-over with new engines and performance packages that would get the A330 competitive. They would not be able to announce a commitment for that consideration for another year. By then the 787 will have 200+ flying 787's and maybe another hundred booked in sales. If a New A330 can approach the 787 envelop of operation, it may work for second level customers in a strategy for a cheaper knockoffs of the 787. However, the longevity of a remake option may have a short shelf life, and not giving a return on the investment idea through upgrading the A330 engine options. That concept would cost billions of Euros. This is another Airbus decision that could be construed as a another "Boeing made you blink" (A350 project). I would not advise Airbus or its partners, but it would be interesting if they brought forward a new and different set of wings with that decision, then they would get some serious interest from its customers. The Boeing 777X wings, 787 and 747 wings are exemplary of world class wings. Airbus does not carry that wing swagger at this time.
Airbus should also bring forward some Euro innovation that can be installed while making the A330 a truely different airplane. They would want to incorporate a new technology suite that makes the old A330 obsolete in its operational arena. Airlines now have a benchmark with the 787. All airlines that operate the 787 and its competitors who do not operate the 787 view that aircraft for what it can do, and new 787 orders will spawn from that reality. A new A330 has to be more than a customer loyalty purchase, just because an airline has other Airbus equipment in its fleet. A year of quiet operation for the 787 is going to be a very quiet sales year for the A330.
So what is Airbus up to as it plays its scattered model battle plan with Boeing, clear from its top end two engine wide body to the bottom end, the A330. The only two announcements available for Airbus is an extra extra wide body with more upolstry A350-1100 (EEWB) and a New Operational Passenger Experience called NOPE A330