Airbus has taken to the stand at the Paris Air Show to officially launch the A321XLR. This new aircraft is not only a derivative of the excellent Airbus A321XL (which in turn is a version of the A321neo) but would now be the world’s longest-range single-aisle aircraft, pushing 4,700 nautical miles!
What are the details?
The new aircraft will have the following specifications:
- Range of 4,700 nautical miles or 8,700 km.
- Up to 220 passengers in a two-class seating configuration.
- 30% less fuel burn savings per seat compared to the original A321
- Passenger comfort features found on other new Airbus planes; better humidity onboard, bigger luggage bins and LED lighting
- Airbus also claims that the new aircraft can be configured with long-haul seats, including premium suites found on some carriers
This is all accomplished with a new center tank and the rear center fuel tank from the original A321LR. Airbus expects to take orders of the new aircraft at the Paris Air Show, but will only deliver the aircraft from 2020 onwards.
This aircraft will fill in a valuable niche for airlines. Many routes currently operating are long range but low demand. For example, a flight from Brisbane to Honolulu needs to be flown by a large double-aisled aircraft. These larger aircraft are harder to fill up completely and make profitable.
“This [aircraft] will enable operators to open new world-wide routes such as India to Europe or China to Australia, as well as further extending the Family’s non-stop reach on direct transatlantic flights between continental Europe and the Americas.” – Airbus Press Release
Additionally, the A321XLR could fill in the ‘middle-of-the-market’ niche that Boeing has been rumored to be working on for the last few years. Airlines might be tempted to buy the new aircraft from Airbus, rather than waiting around for Boeing to sort through its problems with the Boeing 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliners.
You can check out the full press release here.
Who is interested in the aircraft?
We know that there are a few airlines interested in the Airbus A321XLR.
American Airlines is looking to buy around 100 of the aircraft to replace their fleet of 757 and possibly 767 aircraft. This would be a huge win for Airbus, as it would not only mean a major carrier has put confidence in the aircraft, but that they have instantly penetrated the continental USA (long held as the territory of Boeing). This would be a repeat of a previous Paris Air Show, where American Airlines ended up buying a variety of Airbus A320s, much to the displeasure of Boeing (and caused them to quickly rush out the 737 MAX series).
Additionally, IAG (owners of British Airways and Iberia) are looking to buy the A321XLR. This would also be a huge order, with the airline using the aircraft to open new routes to several small USA destinations from Europe.
Jetblue has also looked into the aircraft. Whilst we don’t know where it would be deployed, we suspect it would be to launch more transatlantic routes.
It remains to be seen how successful this aircraft would be, but for Airbus, the timing could not have been better.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments!