MEA Orders 4 Airbus A321XLR’s Becoming The Launch Customer

Middle East Airlines has become the launch customer for the Airbus A321XLR. The news was announced at the Paris Air Show earlier today among a host of other aircraft orders,

Airbus A321XLR middle east airlines
Today MEA became the launch customer for the Airbus A321XLR. Photo: Airbus

The first day of the Paris Air Show has been anything other than quiet, with a whole host of news before the clocks even struck midday. One of the larger stories was that Airbus had launched the A321XLR, however, it was announced alongside an order from ALC. this afternoon we learnt who the launch customer for the aircraft would be. That airline is Middle East Airlines.

Who are Middle East Airlines?

Middle East Airlines, more commonly known as MEA, is the flag carrier of Lebanon. The airline joined SkyTeam as the 17th member in 2012. However, it was originally founded in 1945. The airline does well for itself, having posted a profit of almost $100 million in 2017.

MEA is firmly an Airbus customer, and currently operates two Airbus aircraft; the A320-200 and the Airbus A330-200. However, the airline also has a number of other Airbus aircraft on order. Before today MEA was expecting 11 A321neos, and 4 Airbus A330-900s. In other news for the Airbus A330-900, Virgin Atlantic placed an order for up to 20 of the type earlier today in order to reduce their fleet age to five years old.

Today’s order

Today’s order is relatively small in Airbus’ books. Despite this, it will be fairly significant for Middle East Airlines whose fleet isn’t the largest. The order will most certainly be a highlight for MEA. This is not to mention that they are the launch customer.

Simple Flying’s Chris recently pondered why airlines like to be the launch customer. While I personally don’t think it usually matters whether an airline gets the 1st or 10th aircraft of a type, it makes me really happy to see some of the smaller airlines given this honour.

Busy day for Airbus

The first day of the Paris Air Show has been a busy one for the European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus. They stole the show particularly early on with their opening press conference. The big news of the day was that the manufacturer had launched their A321XLR (extra long range), a move that was widely anticipated. The aircraft was announced alongside a large aircraft order by leasing company ALC.

Following this, Virgin Atlantic announced a firm order for 14 Airbus A330neo aircraft to replace their Airbus A330ceo aircraft. Then, in the afternoon we were treated to the MEA announcement. Hopefully, there are plenty more announcements coming tomorrow too.

What has been your favourite announcement so far? Let us know in the comments!