While speaking at the Singapore Air Show, a senior Airbus executive said that he is confident that the European planemaker can sell 1,000 A321XLRs over the next 10 years. Airbus is confident that new orders and conversions from other models will help them achieve their lofty target. The A321XLR is a longer-range version of the company’s popular twin-engine single-aisle A321neo aircraft.
While speaking to reporters at a much depleted Singapore Airshow, in which 70 exhibitors decided to withdraw from the biennial exposition due to fears of the coronavirus epidemic, Airbus Head of Marketing Francois Caudron said he was confident about his prediction.
Airbus has already sold 450 A321XLRs
After having launched the A321XLR last year, Airbus has already sold 450 of the aircraft to clients that include Qantas and Malaysia’s AirAsia Group. Currently, the big topic around the world, and particularly in Asia, is the coronavirus epidemic that has broken out in China. The Airbus executive admitted that carriers in the region had seen a dramatic downturn in traffic, but refused to answer when asked if any Airbus customers had asked to defer deliveries.
International news organization Reuters reports Mr. Caudron as saying:
“Coronavirus is a crisis. I would just remind ourselves we are in a very resilient industry.”
From his perspective, Caudron said that he saw no sign of panic coming from the airlines and that they were all looking long-term with their outlooks.
“When you order an aircraft it is not for the next six months. It is for the next 20 years.”
Due to the outbreak of coronavirus in Wuhan, Airbus extended a planned closure of its Tianjin A320 family assembly plant. Concerning the closure, Caudron said that Airbus was watching the situation with the virus closely, but would not give a timeline for when the assembly plant might reopen.
What is so special about the Airbus A321XLR?
The XLR is, on many levels, the same as the Airbus A321LR. The XLR version has larger fuel tanks that give it an additional 700 nautical mile range for a total of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometers). This increased range is very attractive to airlines wanting to deploy more efficient single-aisle aircraft on long-range routes.
Firstly, it will allow airlines to fly to destinations that did not warrant flights due to a lack of capacity on widebody jets. Secondly, the A321XLR now opens up airports that could not handle bigger aircraft due to a lack of infrastructure. Just looking at the eastern seaboard of the United States, you can see that almost everywhere is within range of Western Europe. While this will appeal to the major North American airlines, it could prove to be a game-changer for travel in general.
Leaving Ryanair out of the equation due to them hitching their wagon to Boeing, low-cost carrier Wizz Air, who incidentally has 20 A321XLRs on order, can seamlessly incorporate the new aircraft into its all-Airbus fleet.
The A321XLR will allow LCCs to widen their nets
Looking at the map we can see that it would allow the Hungarian airline to fly to most northeast American and Canadian cities from Budapest. From its hub at London Luton, Wizz Air would be able to fly as far as the Rockies.
Let’s face it; the age of the widebody jet may be coming to an end, except for a select few routes where airlines are confident of selling seats. What do you think about the A321XLR?Is it the game-changer I think it is? Please let us know in the comments.