Airbus Delivers SAS’ First Airbus A321LR With Sustainable Fuel

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SAS has taken delivery of its first A321LR. The aircraft was flown from Airbus’ Hamburg plant on a blend of sustainable aviation fuel, in line with SAS’ ambitious carbon reduction goals. It’s the first of three to arrive at the airline, all of which will be deployed on transatlantic routes in a premium-heavy layout.

SAS A321LR
The A321LR has arrived in Copenhagen. Photo: Airbus

The A321LR has arrived at SAS

Scandinavian airline SAS has today taken delivery of its first A321LR from Airbus. The aircraft, on lease from Air Lease Corporation, is the first of three due to arrive at the airline. Delivered from Airbus’ Hamburg plane to SAS’ home at Copenhagen, the aircraft arrived flying on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).

Airbus stated that the A321LR flew with a 10% sustainable jet fuel blend, which is all part of the SAS commitment to reducing its carbon footprint. It follows a trend from the European plane manufacturer, which began delivering aircraft from Hamburg with sustainable fuel in the tank in July this year.

The first airline to receive a sustainable jet fuel delivery was Air Transat, whose A321LR fleet to Montreal on a 10% eco fuel blend.  At the time, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer commented,

“Sustainability and efficiency are essential for our customers and for Airbus. Sustainable aviation fuel developments will play a key role in reducing the environmental footprint of the aviation industry.

“By using sustainable aviation fuels on delivery flights with partners like AerCap and Air Transat, who are flying the aircraft from Hamburg to their Canadian homebase nonstop, we take concrete action to contribute to a more sustainable aviation future.”

It’s the first of three to arrive with the airline. Photo: SAS

Although Hamburg deliveries have only started using sustainable aviation fuel since July, Airbus states that a SAF blend delivery flight has been an option for its customers since 2016. To date, it is the only aircraft manufacturer to offer this service.

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What should we expect from the new A321LR?

SAS was supposed to have its A321LR in September but had flagged a delay to this timeline back in March. While it didn’t have to wait too long for this first arrival, the next two are unlikely to be delivered before 2021.

It’s an exciting move for SAS, which is looking to deploy these narrowbodies on long routes. The first route to see service had been planned was Copenhagen to Boston, and tickets for the route were on sale as early as last November. It’s unclear when or if this route will now start, given the current challenges with operating transatlantic.

Wherever SAS chooses to fly the A321LR first, passengers can be assured of a comfortable ride. The aircraft has a modern, three-class layout, with 22 seats in business, 12 in premium economy and 123 economy seats.

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Business class will see the Vantage seat from Thompson Aero. Photo: Thompson Aero

Up in business, seats alternate between a 2-2 and a 1-1 configuration. The seats for the cabin are believed to t be the Thompson Vantage, a fully flat seat with all the mod cons. It’s the same seat found on the Aer Lingus A321LR, although SAS is going much more premium-heavy, with 22 seats versus Aer Lingus’ 16.

The layout will give some passengers the joy of a ‘throne’ seat. Photo: Thompson Aero

With a range of up to 4,000 nmi, the A321LR is a highly capable narrowbody aircraft. Other airlines, including Aer Lingus and TAP Portugal, also operate it on transatlantic routes, and more airlines are set to join them. When JetBlue launches its London service, its aircraft of choice will also be the A321LR. While the current climate makes these services tricky to operate, we’ll undoubtedly see SAS deploying its new plane transatlantic as soon as it’s possible to do so.

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