The two most ubiquitous narrowbody aircraft are the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. Between the two aircraft manufacturers, there is a fierce rivalry as both try to capture a significant slice of the ever-so-important narrowbody market. Both models have held their own over the years. Airbus, recently, hit a milestone with its Airbus A320 family that proves they can compete in this market. The 9,000th A320 family aircraft was delivered to easyJet earlier in September. Now, Airbus has its sights set on the 10,000th A320 family aircraft.
The 9,000th A320 family aircraft
easyJet loves the A320 lineup. Their entire fleet is comprised of the type. This includes the A320ceos, or older generation A320s, and A320neos in addition to a few variants like the A319 and A321neo. Commonality between the variants allows for easyJet to keep their maintenance and crew costs low. It was quite a special event for both Airbus and easyJet when they received the 9,000th A320 family aircraft.
Why airlines love the A320
Aside from easyJet, plenty of other airlines love the A320 family. This is because the aircraft can perform a variety of services. Not only will the aircraft suffice on short- or medium-haul hops, but Airbus even retooled the aircraft to be economical on a number of long-haul opportunities with new aircraft like the A321LR and A321XLR.
This is a win-win for some airlines, such as TAP and JetBlue, who can use the extended range version of these aircraft to launch long-haul services without having to invest in widebodies, crew training, or additional maintenance and fleet diversification costs.
The A321LR was once a groundbreaking aircraft. When Airbus launched this variant, it was clear that they were after a slice of the middle-of-the-market aircraft segment. This targeted routes which could not sufficiently maintain widebody demand but for which smaller aircraft were unsuitable.
A number of airlines quickly jumped on the A321LR either as a 757 replacement or as the perfect fit for expanding long-haul services without creating overcapacity. But, some airlines still were not convinced. The idea of a longer-range A321 came out of a desire for airlines to keep lower operating costs while still offering airlines plenty of opportunities to open new routes. And so, the A321XLR was born.
The longest-range narrowbody available for purchase is the A321XLR. Airbus essentially offers the A321XLR as the direct competitor to the Boeing’s yet-to-be-launched 797, although the European manufacturer has also highlighted the flexibility of their A330-800neo as an option as well. Nevertheless, the XLR was a hit at the Paris Air Show and took on a significant number of orders including from American Airlines, MEA, and IAG.
Airbus is not slowing down on the Airbus A320 family. Flight Global reports that it is likely Airbus will hit 10,000 deliveries of this family by early 2021. This makes sense as Airbus is working to improve their A320-family production line to up to 63 aircraft a month by 2021. It was only at the end of January 2018 when Airbus reached 8,000 deliveries. In fewer than two years, Airbus delivered another 1,000 aircraft. Now, they hope to do it again. And, reaching that goal is not out of the question barring any major events that affect Airbus’ production capabilities.
It is unclear which airline will receive the momentous 10,000th A320 family aircraft. Hopefully, the aircraft gets a special livery commemorating the event!
Which airline do you think will receive the 10,000th A320 family aircraft? What are your thoughts on the A320 family lineup? Let us know in the comments!