Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus is set to start receiving its order of 8 A321LRs. The aircraft is slated to start operating the company’s US east coast routes. The A321LR is a narrow body single aisle aircraft with a much greater range than a standard A321.
Founded in April 1936, the airline became a wholly owned subsidiary of IAG in 2015. Back in 1936 the airline first operated a DH84 Dragon between Dublin and Bristol. This carried 6 passengers, 200 less than the A321LR can hold in a typical seating arrangement. The new A321LR also has a much greater range. It can fly up to 7,400 kilometres at a time, meaning a fair chunk of the US is in reach from Dublin.
Aer Lingus currently flies to 11 destinations in the United States. These flights are operated by 13 A330s that the airline owns, and 5 B757s leased by the aircraft. Aer Lingus expects 4 A320LRs to be delivered in 2019, and 4 more in 2020. There are potentially three things that they could use this aircraft for. They could create new routes where a large plane isn’t practical. Whilst potentially unlikely, one route suggested could be non stop to destinations in the Caribbean. Some routes in the Caribbean aren’t practical for a large plane as the passenger volume is too low, and previous smaller planes have not had the range for such a destination.
Aer Lingus could also go down the route of replacing A330s on shorter US routes. Whilst the A320LR doesn’t have the range to fly to the west coast from Dublin, the A330 does. It is possible that Aer Lingus could place the A321 on a shorter US route, allowing an A330 to be freed up for a longer route to somewhere like Sacramento.
The final, less likely option it to replace the B757s. In theory Aer Lingus could replace the B757s that they currently lease allowing the airline to return the aircraft to the lessors. On Friday the CEO of Aer Lingus said that the airline was considering 3 North American destinations for the A321LR. He went on to say that the airline expects this to drop to 2 within the coming weeks. Possible destinations Pittsburgh and Montreal were mentioned by the Irish Times. Pittsburgh has been offering huge incentives to long haul operators such as British Airways.
Aer Lingus has lie flat seats on its B757 aircraft which are narrow body, meaning it is likely that the new A321LR aircraft will also have these seats. The Aer Lingus website states that the business seats on their B757 aircraft have a lie flat length of 2m in addition to a width of 22in. The aircraft will likely come with free wifi, as this is a benefit currently extended to business passengers on other aircraft. The business class seats also come with power. As such customers can stay connected to their work on the go.