Where Could AirAsia X Fly The Airbus A321XLR?

With the groundbreaking news that AirAsia X has ordered 30 brand new Airbus A321XLR aircraft, many are now wondering where it plans to fly the aircraft and how the low-cost carrier will deploy it among its network.

AirAsia X has lots of flexibility with the new A321XLR. Photo: Bryan Lee Via Flickr

Where will the aircraft be based?

The first question is the easiest to answer. AirAsia X is based out of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and thus it is likely that these new A321XLR’s would be stationed there on shuttle routes.

Airbus A321XLR infographic
The Airbus A321XLR is one of the longest-range narrowbodies on the market. Rendering: Airbus

Knowing that the range of the A321XLR is around 4,700 nautical miles (give or take a few, depending on cargo load) we can make some judgements about where would be in reach of the South East Asian hub.

KUL
4700 nautical miles from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Photo: GC Maps

Looking at this map, we can see plenty of destinations that AirAsia X could fly the aircraft to. But we also have to keep in mind that the airline also has a fleet of A330 aircraft (24 A330-300s and 78 A330-900neos on order). Thus, to help narrow down the possible list of destinations, we need to look at what the new A321XLRs be best suited for: long-range, low-density routes or routes that require a lot of frequency.

For example, whilst AirAsia X doesn’t fly to Dubai yet, likely they will deploy the bigger A330 on that route instead of the A321XLR. Additionally, it would have to be worthwhile in terms of distance as AirAsia (the main airline that owns AirAsia X) already has plenty of smaller planes for local Asia destinations.

Here are our initial predictions:

Cairo, Egypt

Flying right across the world to the land of the pyramids, AirAsia X could become a transfer airline for tourists heading from Australia to this land of cultural opportunities.

The A321XLR could make the journey. Photo: GC Maps

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

So far, AirAsia X has no routes to Africa. Dar es Salaam could be a gateway to the region for the airline and a perfect route to open up with the A321XLR.

Tanzania
The route linking South East Asia and Africa. Photo: GC Maps

Alternative destinations in the region could be the French territory of Reunion. AirAsia X already flies to Mauritius nearby.

Queenstown, New Zeland.

Testing the limits of the aircraft would be a route all the way to the popular tourist destination of Queenstown. This summer and winter destination is the gateway to the South Island and an easy sell for the airline.

The long route to Queenstown. Photo: GC Maps

AirAsia X already flies into Christchurch so there is already some infrastructure for the airline in the region.

Cairns, Australia

This last route might seem like a bit of an odd choice, but it has more merit to it than initially appears. Cairns International Airport actually sees services from a range of international destinations in Asia, such as Shenzen on Hainan Airlines, Bali with Jetstar and even Singapore on Silk Air.

Cairns deserves more international links to nearby Asian countries. Photo: GC Maps

A link directly to the hub of Kuala Lumpur would be perfect for the airline and actually allow AirAsia X to compete directly with rival Silk Air.

There are plenty of other routes not mentioned in today’s article, and with 30 A321XLRs on the way, AirAsia X will be spoilt for choice.

What do you think? Can you think of any routes that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments.

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