easyJet are one of the most successful low cost airlines in Europe. With a fleet of all Airbus planes, they cover routes spanning from Iceland to Egypt. However, despite dabbling in a few tourist hotspots in the north of Africa, they’ve never gone long haul. But, with the new A321XLR now on the table, could easyJet convert some of their outstanding orders to this long range plane and start some new and exciting routes?
The A321XLR is slated to be capable of up to 4,700 nmi and has been targeted at the ‘long and thin’ marketplace. As airlines move away from hub and spoke services, a point to point aircraft such as this should do very well for them. The popularity of the A321XLR was clear to see, with Airbus gathering 243 orders for the type at the Paris Air Show, in just three days after it was announced.
With the ordering airlines, a number of low cost carriers feature, including flynas, JetBlue and Indigo Partners airlines Frontier, JetSmart and Wizz. However, there was no sign of easyJet, who are another low cost carrier with an Airbus only fleet. But what if they did order the A321XLR? How would it work for them and where would they go?
How would the A321XLR work for easyJet?
easyJet only use Airbus aircraft. For many years, they’ve survived on the A320 family, using a combination of A319-100s and A320-200s. They’ve had 100 A320neo aircraft on order from Airbus since 2013, of which 30 were later converted to the larger A321neo. Whilst they’ve received six of these, there are still 24 on order from Airbus.
As such, it would be easy for easyJet to convert all or part of this order into the A321XLR. Because it’s essentially the same plane, just with extra fuel tanks, there is no retooling of equipment or retraining of pilots necessary to switch between the A321neo and the A321XLR.
Since 2017, easyJet have allowed passengers to book connections with a set of select partners under their ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ scheme easyJet’s Worldwide Partners include:
- Virgin Atlantic
- Cathay Pacific
There are also a number of smaller carriers offering regional flights, but it’s these international ones which are of most interest. As well as these, they have a reward miles sharing agreement with Emirates, although it doesn’t seem a through itinerary could be booked at this time.
With these partners, easyJet has started to build a global route network. With a longer range aircraft such as the A321XLR, they could reach all over the world on one stop itineraries and serve more destinations as nonstop routes too.
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Where could easyJet go with the A321XLR?
If the low cost British airline was to invest in the XLR, it opens up a world of possibilities for their network. From their hub at London Luton Airport, we can see that the range of the XLR puts all manner of exciting destinations within reach.
To the east, easyJet could connect to the Middle East, perhaps serving the new hub at Dubai (DWC). From here, passengers could connect on to anywhere in Asia or Australasia. With partnerships in place with Cathay Pacific, passengers could potentially travel on a single itinerary too.
India is on the periphery of the range of the plane, and while Mumbai and Delhi are unlikely to have any slots for the carrier, some of the lesser airports in the country possibly could. Madurai or Tiruchirappalli would open up Tamil Nadu to connections, or Jodhpur Airport could bring visitors to Rajasthan. Pune would be a popular destination for visitors, and although quieter, is still conveniently close to Mumbai.
To the south, the popular Tanzanian cities of Dar Es Salaam and Zanzibar are within reach of the XLR. The airline currently allows bookings to Zanzibar via their Worldwide Partners, although this is a one stop itinerary with Neos operating the route from Milan to ZNZ. Indeed, much of north and central Africa is within reach of the XLR, which could open up exciting possibilities for the airline from European locations.
Finally, to the west, an investment in A321XLRs could open the potential to go transatlantic. Although narrowbody long haul is not for everyone, the A321 promises wider seats with decent legroom and many ‘widebody style’ comforts. If they did go transatlantic, we’d expect to see them targeting tourist destinations first, perhaps Florida or New Orleans. They could also look to hook up with partner airline WestJet in Toronto to serve Canada or fly to Denver to open even more connecting opportunities.
What do you think? Should easyJet buy the A321XLR and start flying further, or should they stick to what they do best and focus on short haul?