Azores Airlines has beaten its own record for the longest Airbus A321LR flight. On Tuesday, the airline flew 7,874km between Oakland, US, and Lajes in the Azores. At nine and half hours, the flight is shorter in time than the previous record, although longer in distance. The aircraft is the same one that was used to set the previous record.
The Airbus A321, registration CS-TSI, joined the Azores Airlines fleet in October of 2020. At under a year old, it’s already breaking records. The aircraft departed Oakland on the west coast of the US at 13:31 local time. After remaining in the air for nine and half hours, the aircraft landed in the Azores just before 06:00 local time on the morning of Wednesday 8th September.
Fittingly, the aircraft was repainted in November of last year with the word ‘Inspire’ on the fuselage. The record flight covered 4,251 nautical miles (7,874km), beating Azores Airlines’ previous record of 7,651km, which was set in January. The Airbus A321LR that flew the record-breaking flight from Lisbon to Bogota in January is the same one used to set the new record.
In a statement the airline said,
“This achievement puts the airline in the spotlight in Airbus’ records since it exceeds the precedent record of 7600 km of distance traveled between two points. . . Flight S4 236 will stay in the airline history as having been the longest direct journey ever recorded by Airbus, in this type of aircraft.”
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Is it a stunt?
Airbus celebrated the news by sharing the flight details on its Twitter account, calling it “a new long-distance record showing the aircraft’s unrivaled flexibility and performance.” And although the new record is undoubtedly inspiring, there is a longer flight on record. Airbus flew an A321LR from Seychelles to Toulouse over 4,750 nautical miles (8,797km). The aircraft usually has a range of around 4,000 nautical miles (7,408km). Because it was a test flight meant the aircraft was lighter than usual, making the range possible.
Just as with Azores Airlines‘ previous record, the distance is above aircraft’s standard range. It is likely, therefore, that there were very few if any passengers onboard. Passengers, baggage, crew, and cargo all add weight and bring down the range of an aircraft. For a flight this long, the airline may have planned to break the existing record and kept the aircraft as light as possible. Although it confirmed the flight was commercial, likely, it wasn’t full.
Great to see @_azoresairlines flying from record to record with the #A321LR: first there was Lisbon to Bogota direct, and now 7,874km between Oakland 🇺🇸 and Lajes 🇵🇹, a new long distance record showing the aircraft's unrivalled flexibility and performance. pic.twitter.com/GmGhjtv2Bl
— Airbus (@Airbus) September 9, 2021
Impressive but unnecessary?
The flight is undoubtedly awe-inspiring, and with the A321XLR due to launch in the coming years, we will certainly see longer flights in the future. However, many people still struggle with the idea of spending almost 10 hours on a non-stop flight on a narrowbody aircraft.
Many people see these long flights as an end to the traditional hub and spoke networks. They will undoubtedly aid direct flights to smaller airports in becoming more popular. In this case, California has the largest population of Portuguese Americans in the US. Direct flights to the Portuguese Azores could be popular among the demographic.
What do you think of the airlines’ achievement? When do you think the record will be broken? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.