Arkia, the Israeli airline, has received the first A321LR. The aircraft was delivered to the airline yesterday, marking the first delivery of an Airbus A321 long-range aircraft. The flight was completed without incident, making Akira the launch operator of the new aircraft. The aircraft has a range of 4,000nmi, and accordingly, can reach all of Europe and Africa, and a large portion of Asia. Additionally, the aircraft, which features the widest single-aisle cabin, is fitted with the new Airspace by Airbus interior. Initially, Primera Air was billed as the launch customer for the A321LR, however, this had to be quickly changed when the airline went bankrupt in October.
Who Is Arkia?
Arkia is actually a fairly old airline now. The airline was launched as Israel Inland Airlines in 1949. Since then it went on to change its name to Eilata Airlines, before again changing to Arkia. According to AirFleets.net, Arkia operates a fleet of 6 aircraft, becoming 7 with this latest delivery. In fact, its current fleet consists of the following:
- 1 Airbus A321Neo
- 1 Boeing 757-300
- 2 Embraer E190s
- 3 Embraer E195s
The Israeli airline has also ordered 2 A330-900 neo aircraft, an order size which it could increase to 4. These aircraft will accompany the 4 A321neos ordered by Arkia. Airbus says that only 7 days of training is required to train an A320 rated pilot on an A330 and vice versa. As such, the airline could easily have a pool of pilots qualified for both types in case of pilot sickness.
The A321LR is the latest member of the popular A320 family to be delivered. As of the end of May, Airbus had total orders of 14,228 A320 family aircraft. Additionally, the manufacturer had delivered 8,151 of the aircraft. The new engine option (neo) aircraft are selling well, offering improved efficiency compared to the older classic engine option aircraft. While some of the larger neo aircraft haven’t proven so popular, the A320 family is selling particularly well making up 60% of the neo market share.
Arkia’s A321LR has been delivered in a single class seating configuration. As such, the aircraft is outfitted with 220 seats. Arkia’s Chief Executive Nir Dagan told that the new aircraft would be used for a variety of routes. It will initially be used on routes from short hops to Larnaca, which take around 30 minutes, all the way to longer 5-hour transcontinental routes to Barcelona, London, and Paris. The airline is also eying up flights to destinations in the Indian Ocean. These “exotic” destinations will include Zanzibar and Seychelles.
The A321LR has been marketed as a replacement to ageing B757. Mr Dagan told Flight Global: “The A321LR is the first time we’ve found a [single-aisle] aircraft that is more efficient than the 757-300. It’s one of a kind.” Meanwhile, Arkia’s B757 will be 19 years old in December. As such, with the delivery of the new A321s, its days could be numbered.
Would you like to fly on Arkia’s new A321LR? Let us know in the comments down below!