With the Paris Air Show due to start on Monday the big question on everyone’s mind is whether or not Airbus will use the show to debut its new long-range A321XLR.
For new Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury, the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget appears to be the perfect stage for the 51-year-old former Eurocopter boss to unveil the A321XLR, following Airbus’s decision to scrap their flagship A380. Airbus is hoping that in the wake of Boeing’s 737 MAX woes that now is the best time to launch their new single-aisle jet into the marketplace.
Jon Ostrower, over at The Air Current, claims that four people with inside knowledge are saying that the European plane manufacturer has already lined up buyers from around the world, including one U.S. airline.
Pointing to how the A321XLR might be used in North America, one of the sources briefed on the aircraft’s performance says it will be capable of flying from New York to Los Angeles carrying 240 passengers and their luggage.
Could the U.S. Airline be American Airlines?
Reuters is reporting that a source at American Airlines told them that American Airlines Group is looking at the A321XLR as an option, but that it was premature to discuss if it would be a new order or a reconfiguration of an existing one.
While Airbus will be pushing for new orders for the A321XLR by telling airlines they need to get orders in quickly if they want early delivery, it’s hard to see them not allowing airlines who already have orders in to reconfigure them to include the new A321XLR.
When asked on Wednesday about any new aircraft orders American Chief Executive Doug Parker told investors, “there’s nothing that we haven’t announced coming to us”.
The BBC, meanwhile, also thinks that Airbus is going to unveil the plane at the Paris Air Show. They claim that IAG, the owners of British Airways and Iberia, are interested in placing orders.
Indigo Partners could announce a big order
Again reported by Reuters, we have a story talking about U.S.-based private equity firm Indigo Partners being in talks with Airbus over A321XLR orders. Neither Airbus or Indigo wanted to comment on the rumour which was probably sparked by the fact Indigo placed an order for 430 A320neo’s back in 2017.
Headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona, Indigo Partners is an American equity firm that has a controlling interest in several airlines including Frontier Airlines and European low-cost carrier Wizz Air. What Indigo likes to do is use its bulk buying power to squeeze the best possible deals it can get from aircraft manufacturers, and then spread the aircraft throughout its airlines.
Airbus is hoping that, seeing how Indigo is already committed to operating its airlines with the Airbus family of jets, it can persuade boss Bill Franke to invest in the longer-range A321XLR.
What do we know about the A321XLR?
Not surprisingly, the answer is a lot and then not much. While at an Airbus event in Toulouse last month, aviation journalist and frequent flyer Sam Chui said that questions about the A321XLR received sketchy answers.
So far, Airbus has not made public any of the A321XLR’s technical specifications, other than its maximum takeoff weight of 101 tonnes and a range of 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km) carrying between 206-220 passengers.
One new interesting feature that Flight Global says may be incorporated into the A321XLR is a cockpit similar to the A350 XWB, rather than the conventional cockpit found in the A320 family of aircraft.
The Paris Air Show
Simply put, the Paris Air Show is the biggest Air Show in the world, attracting nearly 2,500 companies all eager to show off their latest products and innovations. Held over seven days starting on Monday, June 17th at Paris–Le Bourget Airport just outside the French capital, the Paris Air Show is expected to attract 320,000 visitors.
Generating revenues of around $635 billion in aviation and defence sales, Paris is the place where companies want to make a big splash. We wait excitedly to see if Airbus go ahead and make the announcement.