Today we found out that the world’s largest airline, American Airlines, will be acquiring 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft. We talked about this possibility earlier in the month. Finally, we now know that the purchase agreement includes the conversion of 30 of American’s existing A321neo orders to A321XLRs as well as incremental orders for an additional 20 A321XLRs.
A case of deja vu
If this announcement sounds vaguely familiar, you’re not going crazy! This case of deja vu is because American Airlines made a similar deal at the 2011 Paris Air Show. At the time, Airbus was able to convince American Airlines to make its first jet purchase from the European manufacturer in decades. Caught off-guard, Boeing made the decision to upgrade the MAX instead of designing a brand-new narrowbody aircraft.
According to Wikipedia, this new order will put a total of 120 Airbus aircraft on-order for American Airlines:
- 5 A319-100
- 65 A321neo
- 50 A321XLR
Other A321XLR orders
The new, longer-range version of Airbus’ A321neo has become incredibly popular in the first few days of the Paris Air Show. Already in the last several days we’ve seen the following A321XLR orders from airlines:
- 50 for Indigo Partners (subsidiary airlines Wizz Air, Frontier, JetSmart and Volaris)
- 14 for IAG – these will divide so that eight go to Iberia and six to Aer Lingus
- 4 for MEA
- and, finally, Qantas Group has plans to take 36 divided between Qantas mainline and its subsidiary JetStar
More range, more efficiency
It’s obvious why the Airbus A321XLR has become so popular so quickly. According to Airbus, the aircraft will offer 30% lower fuel burn per seat than “previous-generation competitor aircraft”. The A321XLR will also provide extra long range: up to 4,700nm. This, according to the official press release, is 15% more than the A321LR.
It’s because of this, says Airbus, that airlines will now be able to operate a lower-cost single-aisle aircraft for longer and less heavily travelled routes. Routes that previously were only flown by larger, less efficient wide-body jets.
We are excited to see the new routes this aircraft will open up. As Airbus states:
“This will enable operators to open new world-wide routes such as India to Europe or China to Australia, as well as further extending the Family’s non-stop reach on direct transatlantic flights between continental Europe and the Americas”
Operating those “long and skinny” routes, this new jet will be an extremely valuable asset for low-cost carriers as they serve low-demand city-pairs neglected by legacy carriers. Recently we wrote about the possibilities this brings Frontier on the transatlantic front.
The aircraft is also expected to be a pleasure to fly on compared to older planes, as the A321XLR’s new “Airspace cabin” will offer seats in all classes “the same high-comfort as on long-haul widebody aircraft”.
We are now close to the middle of the Paris Air Show and already we’ve seen so much positive news for the A321XLR. With so many days remaining we will be anxiously waiting to see what other airlines announce orders for the plane.
Who do you think will be next to announce? JetBlue perhaps?