Aer Lingus Airbus A321XLR Fleet: What We Know So Far

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the upcoming launch of the Airbus A321XLR. The aircraft will be the latest development of the A321neo, which itself already has an extended-range variant in the form of the A321LR. Irish flag carrier and former oneworld member Aer Lingus is one of the airlines set to receive the type, but what do we know so far?

A321XLR Aer Lingus
Aer Lingus is set to receive six A321XLRs. Image: Airbus

What is the Airbus A321XLR?

Since entering service with German flag carrier Lufthansa in 2016, the Airbus A320neo family has won extensive admiration. The aircraft’s new engine technology (‘neo’ stands for ‘New Engine Option’) offers a quieter experience for passengers, as well as reducing external noise pollution. The type is also more efficient than its predecessors, saving airlines money.

The largest member of the original A320 family was the A321. Airbus has developed ‘neo’ variants of every original variant from this series except the smaller A318, meaning that the A321neo is its largest next-generation narrowbody. It has an impressive range of 7,400 km (4,000 NM), but Airbus has increased this with new sub-variants.

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The A321XLR will be a game-changer on ‘long thin’ routes. Image: Airbus

The first of these is the A321LR, which JetBlue has deployed on flights between London and the US East Coast. This aircraft has a 15% better range than the standard A321neo, but will be outranked by the same margin again by the A321XLR. This variant looks set to alter long-haul travel by unlocking more ‘long thin’ routes.

The Aer Lingus order

In June 2019, Willie Walsh, CEO of the International Airlines Group, stated that the A321XLR would be a ‘very interesting’ proposition for IAG. Later that month, Airbus confirmed at the Paris Air Show that it had received an order for the aircraft from IAG. The group followed through on its aforementioned interest by purchasing 14 of the long-range narrowbodies.

Of these aircraft, IAG plans for eight to go to Spanish flag carrier Iberia, and the remaining six to Aer Lingus. The Dublin-based airline is familiar with long-range A321neo operations as a whole as reports that it already has seven A321LRs in its fleet, plus one more on order. The carrier is planning to deploy some of these on its Manchester-US flights.

Aer Lingus A321LR
Aer Lingus received its first A321LR in July 2019. Photo: Airbus

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What’s the latest?

As seen in the tweet above, Aer Lingus hoped at the time of the announcement to begin receiving its A321XLRs in 2023. At the time of writing, this looks to be an achievable aspiration, with Airbus recently confirming that it is on track to introduce the type commercially by then. The exact delivery schedule for the airline remains to be seen.

If Aer Lingus’s existing A321LRs are anything to go by, then its upcoming A321XLRs should make for a rather nice experience in terms of passenger comfort. According to SeatGuru, these are fitted with a relatively low-density 184-seat configuration.

Crucially, for its long-haul operations, the 16-seat business class cabin consists of 78-inch flatbeds. With this section offering widebody comfort on a narrowbody, it could spark a revolution in single-aisle transatlantic travel. Watch this space…

Are you excited to see the A321XLR in Aer Lingus’s fleet? Will it represent part of an increasing trend in narrowbody transatlantic flights? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.