American Airlines New Airbus A321XLR Fleet – What We Know So Far

It’s been almost a year since American Airlines announced a purchase agreement for 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft. The purchase agreement included the conversion of 30 of American’s existing A321neo slots to A321XLRs, as well as incremental orders for an additional 20 A321XLRs. Has anything changed with this order since it was first announced? Have we learned anything new? Let’s find out.

The A321XLRs are not due at American until 2023. Photo: Airbus

Nothing seems to have really changed since the announcement of the order. There hasn’t been any news on seating or routes, and no changes to the order either (which can be considered a good thing).

Despite a global health crisis taking place, it does seem like everything is on track for American Airlines to take delivery of its first A321XLR jets in 2023. Here’s what we are anticipating for the order.

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Replacing older jets

Just like United Airlines, American will use its new, extra-long-range Airbus’ jets to replace aging Boeing 757s.

The world’s largest airline has been using the Boeing 757 for many years. Its fleet has an average age of 20 years. The single-aisle plane is in a 16-business, 166-economy seat configuration, powered by two Rolls-Royce RB211 engines.

The Airbus A321XLR will have 800 nautical miles of extra range over its predecessor with higher capacity as well: Up to 200 passengers in a two or three-class layout.

American 757
American has been keeping some older aircraft, like the 757, for a longer time. Photo: Getty Images

Configuration speculation

While there has yet to be confirmation of the new aircraft’s layout and configuration, we’ve had hints in the past.

Because of the unique routes that the A321XLR might be flying (long-haul but low capacity routes), American Airlines might choose to add another premium category of seats to take advantage of the long flight times. One of these could be premium economy.

This is something American’s leadership touched on last summer. “If and when we fly it to close-in Europe, that would require lie-flat seats, all aisle access for business class…allow for premium economy,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said via View from the Wing last July.

With this information, it would make sense if the A321XLR’s layout featured 1-1 business class, 2-2 in premium economy, and 3-3 in economy.

American airlines man enjoys film with wine
Shown here is American Airline’s business class on a Boeing 787. If the airline features direct-aisle access on its new A321XLRs then we would have a 1-1 configuration. Photo: American Airlines

Where the A321XLR is at

Since its summer 2019 unveiling, Airbus has been taking steps to adapt its production line to begin production of the new type.

In April, we reported that Airbus had already begun work forging the aircraft’s central wing box. Parallel to this, manufacturing company Safran has started to produce the parts it is responsible for supplying. These include the nose and main landing gear.

A321XLR Metal Cut
Airbus has already begun to reconfigure its manufacturing facilities to begin work on the A321XLR. Photo: Airbus

Over two years to go

Of course, at this point, a lot can still change. Fortunately for both Airbus and American, the planned entry into service is far enough away that commercial aviation should have recovered substantially for American’s first A321XLR delivery in 2023.

Do you think anything will change to American Airline’s A321XLR order between now and the first delivery? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.