In the final moment of the three day Paris Air Show, JetBlue managed to sneak in order for the brand new Airbus A321XLR!
JetBlue decided to change 13 existing A321neo orders in the new longer-range type.
What are the details?
JetBlue has made a move mirrored by many other airlines this week, by ordering the new long-range A321XLR.
The A321XLR is a special derivative of the A321neo that as center rear fuel tanks to facilitate an incredibly long range of 4,700 nautical miles. So long, in fact, that Airbus has now brought us the world’s farthest reaching single-aisle aircraft. This range increase is 15% more than the previous A321LR and 30% more than the original A321neo. It can carry around 200 passengers in a two-class configuration.
The advantage of this aircraft is that it can perform the same routes as a wide-body twin-aisle aircraft, with the same three-class service mix, but at a dramatically reduced cost.
Also, slipped into the fine print of the contract with Airbus was an additional 10 A220-300s to go to the carrier. This will mean a total of 70 A220-300s on order.
All of these aircraft will start to be delivered from 2023 onwards.
Speaking to One Mile At A Time, Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s CEO, had this to say,
“The incredible extended range of the A321XLR allows us to evaluate even more overseas destinations as we think about JetBlue’s expansion into European markets plagued by high premium fares and subpar service.”
What routes will JetBlue use the aircraft on?
Now, this is the big question. With every airline ordering this new aircraft (and single handedly winning the Paris Air Show for Airbus, in our opinion), where will JetBlue deploy this aircraft in the most competitive way possible?
JetBlue recently announced that they would be flying to London from New York, and it is very likely that these aircraft will be used for that route in the future.
From there, JetBlue is likely to use the A321XLRs to expand their European route network, starting with capital cities like Paris and Madrid, then onto tourist destinations like Barcelona and Nice. JetBlue already plans to operate these routes with their A321LRs, due to be delivered in 2021.
Additionally, JetBlue will expand its South American routes. Recently they revealed a new route to Ecuador from JFK which is their longest route before Europe.
According to some sources, the aircraft are destined for their Boston and New York (JFK) hubs.
The A321XLR will allow JetBlue to operate incredibly competitively against bigger carriers like United or American, who run large widebodies on the same routes. These widebody aircraft cost a ton of fuel to operate, are hard to fill up to be profitable and are not very flexible (for example, they cannot land at every airport due to runway length). The A321XLR solves all of these problems, has a much lower fuel burn per seat and is easier to sell out.
What do you think of this order? Will JetBlue be using these aircraft for European expansion? Let us know what you think in the comments.