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Babybus

Updated: Aug 11, 2021

The smallest member of the Airbus commercial aircraft line-up is seldom seen in these parts. On the edge of Western Europe, Ireland has never been a regular destination for the A318 by any airline operating the type, a ‘shrunk’ version of the A319 and A320, except the occasional visit by an Air France example. Arriving on the scene in 2003 with launch customer Frontier Airlines, the A318 wasn’t what you might call a large volume seller, with Airbus managing to place just 81 of their “Babybus” with operators.

Image by Anne Fintelman

Sunday Aug 1st revealed a pleasant surprise for Irish enthusiasts when an elusive Airbus A318-111 (YR-ASB) landed at Dublin Airport and not a private jet variant but one of the last in-service with an airline. The airline, Tarom of Romania, still retain four A318’s for their short to medium haul routes.


The charter flight, taking the PAOK FC (Greece) football team to Dublin to play against Bohemians in the UEFA Europa Conference League, qualifying round at the Aviva Stadium on Tuesday 3rd of August, began it’s journey at Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport on Sunday evening at 17:05 setting off for the 1hr flight east to Thessaloniki. It’s here the team boarded the 113 seat A318 before getting underway for the 3hr 36min flight to the Irish capital, arriving at 20:31


Tarom do not provide a schedule flight linking Romania with Ireland and it’s uncertain if they ever did in the past. Ryanair may well be viewed as the main obstacle, although Blue Air appear to have the Bucharest and Bacau routes in hand, while newcomer HiSky is nurturing the Romanian cities of Iasi and Cluj.

Image by Boran Pivcic

The four A318’s operated by Tarom (YR-ASA, YR-ASB, YR-ASC & YR-ASD) can generally be found on routes from Bucharest and other Romanian cities to London, Paris, Amsterdam, Rome, Frankfurt, Athens and several Greek islands.


YR-ASB includes small fuselage titles, “Traian Vuia” in honour of the Romanian inventor and aviation pioneer who designed, built and tested the first tractor monoplane in 1906. One hundred years later in 2006, the first two A318’s arrived new to Tarom with the other pair following a year later in 2007.

Image by Simon Brooke

Being up to 6m shorter than an A320 reduces the A318’ MTOW by a significant 10 tonnes. This weight loss combined with the turbofans being only slightly down on power compared to the A320, provides the “Babybus” with a power to weight advantage, useful for powering out of geographically tighter airports. The A318 is equipped with an impressive tailfin, reaching a height of 12.56m off the ground, taller than the A319, A320 & A321. All the better to aid in stabilising the aircraft with the shorter fuselage length.


Once the Greek team were on the ground at Dublin, YR-ASB departed Dublin Airport at 21:40 and travelled the 2,538 km back to base in Bucharest, arriving at 02:45 local time. The big night soon beckoned and the clash of football skills resulted in victory for the Irish side, Bohemians.

Image by Martin Bernict

Rumour had it, that a South African B737-400 of a vintage age may have been awarded the return charter to carry the Greek team back to Thessaloniki. However this failed to materialise. A weary looking A320 of SmartLynx appeared in the frame to deliver the losing side home but this too was a non-starter. It’s seems quite possible that PAOK and their entourage were quite taken by the Irish hospitality that an extended period of “away time” may well have been prescribed, as it remains unclear as to the movements of the team and how exactly they made their way back to Greece!


Images by Anne Fintelman,, Simon Brooke, Boran Pivcic & Martin Bernict

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