Exclusive: La Compagnie On The Airbus A321XLR

French all-business class carrier La Compagnie is well-known for flying passengers across the Atlantic. The airline has only relied on narrowbody aircraft to serve routes from Newark to France. In an exclusive interview with Simple Flying, La Compagnie’s President, Christian Vernet, stated that the carrier is examining the Airbus A321XLR, which could open up some exciting opportunities for La Compagnie.

La Compagnie A321neo
La Compagnie already flies the Airbus A321neo, but the A321XLR could be on the cards. Photo: Airbus

La Compagnie is looking at the Airbus A321XLR

Currently, La Compagnie flies two Airbus A321neo aircraft. These jets, which are normally intended to fly short- to medium-haul hops with a load of passengers in the 190-220 seat range, serve a different mission at La Compagnie. Outfitted with room for only 76 passengers onboard the aircraft, the light load enables La Compagnie to fly the jets on long-haul routes between the US and Europe. Soon, those jets will also be flying to Israel from France.

However, these planes have their limitations. The jets cannot go deep into the Middle East, Africa, or the United States. When asked about how La Compagnie was thinking about the A321XLR, Mr. Vernet stated the following:

“We will certainly look into the XLR, as you know, certification is supposed to be taking place by 2023 or 2024. That aircraft is going to be a bit better as far as performance is concerned, in terms of range, because it has more fuel [capacity], and it is supposed to be a bit lighter than the classic LR. That’s, a good fit for us.

Exclusive: La Compagnie On The Airbus A321XLR
The Airbus A321XLR would allow La Compagnie to fly to more destinations than the A321neo allows. Photo: Airbus

The Airbus A321XLR is a hit among airlines. Largely billed as the next generation of long-haul narrowbody aircraft and a replacement to the Boeing 757, airlines from JetBlue to United to Qantas to American to Cebu Pacific have the jet on order and are evaluating the best ways to use the aircraft. La Compagnie used to fly the Boeing 757 before taking on the A321neos.

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Where could the Airbus A321XLR fly?

Airbus publishes a range of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometers) for the A321XLR. That gives the aircraft a pretty excellent range from Paris. As you can see on the map below, the A321XLR can reliably head into Dallas, Chicago, Miami, Nairobi, Delhi, Mumbai, parts of China, and more.

Exclusive: La Compagnie On The Airbus A321XLR
The range of the Airbus A321XLR. Rendering created at Great Circle Mapper

However, considering that La Compagnie would likely only have about 76 business class seats on the plane, this light load could enable the jet to fly even further and potentially hit points in the West Coast of the US like Los Angeles or San Francisco, and some slightly inner points like Las Vegas.

Cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have lost some premium capacity to Europe. This is especially true without the Airbus A380s and Boeing 747s pointed there now. Air France, which flies between Los Angeles and Paris, used to fly the A380 on this route. Without that plane in its fleet anymore, this means lost premium capacity that La Compagnie could target.

The Airbus A321neos right now are flexible

For La Compagnie, the Airbus A321neo is a flexible aircraft that is just right for the network it serves. However, the airline also has some untapped potential with what it can do with its jets. As Mr. Vernet explained:

“We have the ability, because the provision is there in our fleet to have a third fuel tank, so that will extend the range by 400 nautical miles, which would allow us to go further down to Chicago or to Miami.”

Exclusive: La Compagnie On The Airbus A321XLR
La Compagnie still has untapped potential with its Airbus A321neos. Photo: La Compagnie

La Compagnie does not need a lot of belly cargo capacity, given that it does not have a significant payload it needs to fly, which is why the airline can also extract more range and flexibility out of the Airbus A321neo than what other airlines can.

As La Compagnie comes out of the crisis and looks at its fleet, the Airbus A321XLR could be a nice fit for the airline seeking to grow its presence. It could be a gamechanger for the airline, which could potentially operate the longest A321XLR route while also bringing more opportunities to more passengers.

Do you think La Compagnie should take the Airbus A321XLR? Let us know in the comments!

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