Kazahkstan flag carrier Air Astana is looking into the Airbus A321XLR. But while most people are interested in the additional range offered by the aircraft, Air Astana is interested in the aircraft for a different reason altogether – its weight, and ability to carry cargo.
Announced at the 2019 Paris Air Show, the Airbus A321XLR was instantly a huge hit clocking an impressive 243 commitments including 152 new orders at the airshow. While launch customer MEA is yet to take delivery of the first XLR, Airbus customers are impressed with the A321LR, with many considering if the XLR could have a place in future fleets.
Looking at the Airbus A321XLR
Speaking with Simple Flying, Peter Foster, CEO of Air Astana, confirmed that his airline does have an interest in the latest installment of the A321neo family. The issue for Air Astana is that the airline wouldn’t really have a use for the XLR’s additional range. However, the aircraft’s other attributes could make it of interest. Foster commented,
“We have been discussing the XLR … the XLR may well have some advantages in terms of weight, which obviously is cost, and in terms of its ability to carry more cargo. It’s quite possible that, for those two reasons, the XLR will be a good progression from the LR. And we are actively discussing and looking into it.”
Happy with the A321LR
Air Astana is very happy with its Airbus A321LR aircraft, which have become the flagship of its fleet, operating with a comfortable business class cabin on its longest routes such as Frankfurt and London. Foster called the A321LR a ‘very welcome addition to the fleet’. He added,
“The aircraft has been extraordinarily positive in terms of efficiency. It’s burning less than half the fuel of a [Boeing] 757 which was previously used to operate those routes. As we can see with the oil price recovery, [efficiency] is becoming a major factor.”
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Popular with passengers
It seems as though the A321LR is proving to be a hit with passengers as well as the airline itself. According to Foster, the reception by customers has been extraordinarily positive. Air Astana has gone out of its way to make the cabin as comfortable as possible in both classes.
In the economy cabin, every passenger has a 10-inch in-flight entertainment display and a generous 33 inches of pitch (the distance between the same point on two seats). Meanwhile, in the business cabin, an alternating 2-2 and 1-1 layout can be found. The 16 Thompson Vantage seats have been especially popular, with Foster describing the alternating throne seats as like a first class seat.
Do you think the Airbus A321XLR would be a good fit for Air Astana? Let us know what you think and why in the comments down below.