Rumors have been circulating recently that American Airlines is looking at the Airbus A321XLR to replace its aging 34 Boeing 757-200 jets. This speculation has come in advance of the Paris Air Show – an event that often sees many airline announcements regarding new aircraft orders.
Widely known as the world’s largest airline, American Airlines have been using the Boeing 757 for many years. Their fleet has an average age of 19 years. The single-aisle plane is in a 16-business, 166-economy seat configuration with American, and is powered by two Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.
According to a Bloomberg news article, many are expecting Airbus to launch the A321XLR at the Paris Air Show, taking place on June 17th to the 23rd. The aircraft would be an even longer-range variant of the A321LR, which of course is a longer-range variant of the A320neo.
The new Airbus model, if announced, would be designed to compete with the highly anticipated Boeing 797, which is also yet to be officially announced. However, Simple Flying has some ideas about what it will look like and when it will be announced.
Many airlines are reported to have an interest in the A321XLR. News has come out recently that United Airlines could replace its own 757 fleet with the XLR. In fact, India’s IndiGo, British Airways parent group IAG, and JetBlue have also expressed interest in the XLR.
hearing from multiple angles that an AA order for the A321LR is imminent, potentially at the Paris air show.
— JonNYC (@xJonNYC) May 31, 2019
As airlines identify fuel consumption as a major factor in profitability, aircraft range and efficiency are becoming more important than ever. A key feature of the Boeing 757 was its size in combination with the ability to fly long routes that had low capacity. The 797 or A321XLR would have that same “middle of the market” capacity but utilize the latest technological advancements to make flights highly fuel efficient.
Routes that American Airlines currently serves using its 757 fleet include:
These routes have lower demand but are a considerable distance to fly for smaller, narrowbody planes.
A big step with American Airlines
According to sources speaking with Arabian Business, there’s no guarantee that American will actually order the XLR. Similar to JetBlue’s situation, it’s unclear whether American would place a new order or simply convert some of its existing Airbus orders to the longest-range variant. The airline still has 100 Airbus A320-family jets on order.
Despite the uncertainty of this rumor, it would certainly be a big step for American Airlines. The airline is an influential carrier in the aviation world and has been largely loyal to Boeing in recent decades. Up until 2011, American Airlines operated a mainly Boeing fleet. That was, at least, until the announcement of a 460-plane deal that would include newer versions of the A320 and the 737. The airline may be regretting the 737 portion of that order right now.
We’ll have to see what happens at the Paris Air Show in just over a week from now. What do you think? Should American Airlines go ahead with replacing their 757 fleet with the A321XLR? Or should it try and hold out for the 797?