We recently reported that the Qantas Group has secured as many as 36 Airbus A321 XLR aircraft due to be delivered from mid-2024. Announced at the Paris Air Show, this news is exciting as it allows the airline the ability to run long-distance, low-capacity routes. In this article, we will take a look at some of the possible routes that could be on the cards for Qantas.
Despite the numbers of the official statement, there is some flexibility around timing and structure in their Airbus order. Last week, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce commented on the A321XLR’s range, saying,
“It can fly routes like Cairns-Tokyo or Melbourne-Singapore, which existing narrow-bodies can’t, and that changes the economics of lots of potential routes into Asia to make them not just physically possible but financially attractive,”
Let’s see what routes might make economic sense and be financially attractive for the airline.
4,700 nautical miles
We know that Qantas has international hubs in the following cities:
Therefore, with a range of 4,700 nautical miles, we will apply this to the above airports to see what cities might pair well…
From Sydney and Melbourne
Looking at the outer edges of the range maps below we can see that major cities in South Korea and Japan are in reach from Sydney and Melbourne. However, these major East Asian hubs are well served by Qantas already, using larger widebody aircraft.
With China’s surging status as an economic powerhouse and an overall rise in wealth, perhaps residents of major Chinese cities could be lured into tourism in Australia. Perhaps Wuhan, with a population of over 10 million and Changsha at over 7 million could be serviceable destinations.
On the South/Southeast Asia side, we can see that smaller Thai cities like Phuket, Siem Reap and Chiang Mai could be possibilities. Yangon, the capital of Myanmar might also work. On the edge of both cities’ range is Colombo, Sri Lanka. These destinations would mainly cater to Australian tourists looking to explore SEA.
Many possible destinations from Brisbane are similar to those of Melbourne and Sydney. However, a direct flight between Beijing and Brisbane may lure more Chinese tourists to the coastal Australian city.
Flying from Perth, we can see that the A321XLR’s range covers all of India. Furthermore, Tokyo and Seoul are within reach of this small Western city. Again, this seems like a great opportunities to boost tourism between the two countries.
A big question will be whether these Qantas-owned XLR jets will take on Qantas service or serve the Qantas-owned low-cost subsidiary Jetstar.
Our favorite possibilities
Of everything we looked at above, here are our top five routes we’d love to see:
- Sydney to Siem Reap
- Melbourne to Okinawa
- Brisbane to Beijing
- Perth to Delhi
Officially launching last week at the Paris Air Show, A321XLR orders have been made by MEA (Middle East Airlines), Indigo Partners, American Airlines, Philippines low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific, as well as IAG’s Aer Lingus and Iberia. The aircraft is an improvement on the already fuel efficient and long range narrowbody A321neo.
According to Airbus, the A321XLR’s new “Airspace cabin” will be an improvement to the travel experience. In fact, the new jet will offer seats in all classes with “the same high-comfort as on long-haul widebody aircraft”.
In conclusion, we will just have to wait and see what Qantas announces in the future for the A321XLR. As delivery doesn’t happen until 2024, we maybe we waiting a little while before any news emerges.