The Airbus A321 vs A320 – What Plane Is Best?

The A320 was the model aircraft for Airbus that rocked the company into a household name. With more than 400 orders before the aircraft even took flight (especially compared to the earlier A300 that only had 15 orders), the A320 series would quickly become a staple product for the company.

But, only one year after the A320 family launched, Airbus announced a further derivative of their classic aircraft, the A321.

A320
The A320 family, side by side. Source: Wikimedia/Julien.scavini

But which is better? The classic A320 or the A321? Plus with new versions of both hitting the market (Neo or new engine option versions) do they still compete on the same level?

What models are there in the A320 family?

Let us start by outlining the various models of the A320 family.

ModelPassengers (2 class)Range
A3181073,100 nmi (5,741 km)
A3191243,750 nmi (6,945 km)
A3201503,300 nmi (6,112 km)
A3211853,200 nmi (5,926 km)

Also, for the sake of clarity here is the same table for the Neo versions:

ModelPassengers (2 class)Range
A319neo1406,950 km / 3,750 nmi
A320neo1656,500 km / 3,500 nmi
A321neo2067,400 km / 4,000 nmi
A321LR2207,600 km / 4,100 nmi

From the above tables that highlight the differences between the two models, we can see that whilst the A320 carries fewer passengers than the A321, it has a better range (although has nothing on the A319). The A320neo, however, does not compete with the bigger A321neo with its bigger capacity and bigger range.

the A321LR
The Airbus A321LR is proving a popular choice with many carriers. Source: Airbus

On these numbers above, it is clear that the new A321neo is the best aircraft in the Airbus family (and perhaps the A321LR also gives them a run for their money).

A bit of trivia, Airbus is also considering a further range extension of the A321LR, the A321XLR. This aircraft could fly from Montreal, Canada to Split, Croatia or around 8,500 km.

As for the older aircraft, if you want range you go with the A319 if you want capacity you chose the A321, but if you want that sweet spot in the middle then the A320 is your best bet. Although we would argue that 100 nmi is hardly a justification to not choose the A321 over the A320. But below we do consider another reason.

But all these facts might be moot until we understand which of these aircraft are more popular with each airline. Let’s update the tables above to look at each order for each aircraft.

ModelOrdersDeliveries
A3188080
A3191,4861,476
A3204,7704,704
A3211,7991,718

As we can see, most airlines actually chose the middle ground, the A320. This aircraft easily got more than double the orders than the A321.

As for the Neo versions:

ModelOrdersDeliveries
A319neo550
A320neo4,154549
A321neo2,292138

It seems the pattern continues. The A320neo in its later form is still just as popular and easily beats the A320 in terms of orders. This may have something to do with the fact that both the A321 and the A321neo is around another $20 million extra than the A320 and A320neo

Which is your favorite A320 aircraft? Would you like to see a comparison for the 737 family? Let us know in the comments!

2 comments
  1. Since you asked, please, please, no more of these inane comparisons.

    They’re different planes for different missions, not better or worse. The entire premise of the question is just stupid, and the level of analysis is worse.

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