235 Seats: Where Is easyJet Flying Its Airbus A321neos?

easyJet currently has 322 aircraft at Group level across easyJet UK, easyJet Europe, and easyJet Switzerland. It has 165 A320ceos, 106 A319s, 37 A320neos, and 10 A321neos. Some 107 aircraft remain on order, comprised of 91 A320neos and 16 A321neos. We examine its largest Airbus narrowbody and where it’s flying right now.

easyJet A321neo
This A321neo, G-UZMA, was delivered to easyJet on July 13th, 2018. Photo: Alan Wilson via Flickr.

easyJet’s A321neos

The low-cost carrier received its first A321neo in 2018. With 235 seats, they have 26% more capacity than the 186-seat A320neo. Assuming a 91.5% seat load factor, the Group’s average in 2019 means 215 passengers against 170 with the smaller neo. Those extra 45 passengers per trip mean significant revenue opportunities.

easyJet A321neo Gatwick to Lanzarote
As trip length rises, fuel becomes a disproportionately higher part of costs, so using very new aircraft like the A321neo on longer sectors. In October, easyJet’s average A321neo route will be 63% longer than its system average. At the time of writing, G-UZMD is en route from Gatwick to Lanzarote. Image: Radarbox.com.

Crucially, the aircraft enables much lower costs

At the same time, the larger aircraft also enables much lower unit costs, although offset by a higher trip cost. In 2017, when easyJet converted some orders for A320neos to A321neos, it said the type would enable “substantial unit cost savings” (cost per seat-mile) of 8% to 9%.

This cost-saving is crucial in growing the LCC’s competitiveness, especially as Ryanair receives more 197-seat B737 MAX 200s and Wizz Air 239-seat A321neos. Of course, such aircraft don’t just enable higher revenue and lower unit cost, but also much-reduced CO2 and noise compared with older equipment.

Easyjet 1st A321neo Delivery - FIA2018 - Day 03_
easyJet mainly uses its A321neos from slot-constrained airports and on longer trips. This means it benefits from more seats and greater fuel efficiency. Photo: Airbus.

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Lower costs, more revenue, better slot use

easyJet also acquired the A321neo to enable growth in slot-constrained airports and airports, like Bristol, which could benefit from more overnight stands. The use of bigger aircraft at slot-constrained airports is no different from airlines purchasing very large equipment. It’s about maximizing the benefit from each slot where you cannot easily grow frequency or breadth.

In easyJet’s case, slots mainly referred to London Gatwick, by far its largest base, but also the likes of Paris CDG and core summertime holiday destinations. There’s an exciting twist now, of course. British Airways has said it might end virtually all short-haul flying from Gatwick, although this is more likely than not to be a negotiating tactic with the pilot union. But if it does happen, what will happen with BA’s slots?

The larger narrowbody also plays a vital role competitively speaking, such as on domestic Italian routes facing Wizz Air’s A321neos. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr.

easyJet’s use of the A321neo

In October, easyJet has scheduled 1,106 flights by its larger aircraft, according to an analysis of schedules information provided to OAG. That’s up by 54% versus October 2019 due to four additional deliveries since then and despite the pandemic. In that month in 2019, the variant was used solely from Gatwick. Some 36 routes saw it, but mainly infrequently.

easyJet's A321neo network in October 2021
This is easyJet’s expected A321neo network in October 2021. Image: OAG Mapper.

90 routes will see the A321neo in October

easyJet has scheduled its A321neos on 90 routes this October. While Gatwick remains number-one, as you’d expect, the airport will have ‘only’ 43% of flights by the variant. Paris CDG (21%), Milan Malpensa (18%), and Bristol (18%) will also be important. The top-10 most-served routes will be as follows.

  • Gatwick to Tenerife South
  • Gatwick to Lanzarote
  • Gatwick to Faro
  • Paris CDG to Milan Linate
  • Paris CDG to Catania
  • Paris CDG to Nice
  • Milan Malpensa to Brindisi
  • Milan Malpensa to Bari
  • Paris CDG to Porto
  • Paris CDG to Tel Aviv

Have you flown a high-density A321neo yet? If so, let us know your experiences by commenting.