Xiamen Airlines Intends To Acquire 10 A321neos

News coming out of China today will come as a significant blow to Boeing. Long-time Boeing customer Xiamen Airlines has expressed its interest in the Airbus A321neo as a new addition to its fleet.

Airbus A321neo
Xiamen Airlines is interested in Airbus’ A321neo. Photo: Clemens Vasters via Flickr

Ripples of the Boeing 737 MAX scandal continue to rock the US aerospace giant more than 10 months after the type was grounded worldwide. This morning, reports emerged that one of Boeing’s loyal customers, Xiamen Airlines, has inquired about the addition of 10 Airbus jets to its fleet.

Specifically, Xiamen has expressed interest in the Airbus A321neo, one of the main competitors to the Boeing 737 MAX.

Xiamen Airlines’ order

The news of Xiamen Airlines’ interest in the Airbus A321neo broke this morning after photos of the acquisition notice for the lease were posted on Twitter.

Rather than buying 10 Airbus A321neos straight from the manufacturer, it appears Xiamen Airlines has opted to lease the aircraft.

According to reports by Reuters, Xiamen Airlines has invited lessors to send their bids to supply the aircraft. Airbus has said it is ‘delighted’ by the news of Xiamen’s interest in the Airbus A321neo.

The aircraft will be scheduled for delivery to the airline from the second half of 2021 until 2023.

Xiamen Airlines’ current fleet

Many airlines operate a mix of Boeing and Airbus types, but Xiamen Airlines is not one of them. In fact, Xiamen Airlines is one of the many airlines which operates a fleet solely consisting of aircraft from one manufacturer – Boeing.

Currently, the airline operates a fleet of 166 Boeing aircraft in total, including 154 Boeing 737 variants. Of these 154 Boeing 737s, 137 are Boeing 737-800s, 7 are Boeing 737-700s and 10 are Boeing 737 MAX 8s.

B-5653 | Xiamen Airlines | Boeing 737-85C(WL) | TAO
The Boeing 737 has been a favorite of Xiamen Airlines since it began operations in 1984. Photo: byeangel via Flickr

Interestingly, the number of Airbus A321neos Xiamen Airlines is looking to lease is exactly the same as the number of Boeing 737 MAX the airline has had to ground.

Presumably, the Airbus A321neos are a direct replacement for the airline’s Boeing 737 MAX, which were an important investment for the future of its fleet.

The wider context of Xiamen Airlines’ decision

Simple Flying has reached out to Xiamen Airlines for comment on its interest in the Airbus A321neo. The airline hasn’t been able to respond yet, but we will update the article once we receive more information.

Regardless, the airline’s decision seems to be part of a wider increase in orders for Airbus jets in China. Last March Airbus secured a landmark deal for 300 jets to be delivered to China following a visit from Xi Jinping. 290 of these aircraft were from the Airbus A320 family.

B-5653 | Xiamen Airlines | Boeing 737-85C(WL) | TAO
Xiamen Airlines has had to ground 10 Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: byeangel via Flickr

During 2019 the effects of the Boeing 737 MAX scandal were plainly obvious when looking at the delivery totals for both manufacturers.

According to Bloomberg, Airbus managed to deliver 863 aircraft to its customers across the year. By comparison, Boeing managed just 380 deliveries, a figure which would have been much higher had it not been for the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.

Now that loyal customers are looking towards Airbus for new aircraft, the re-certification of the Boeing 737 MAX is more important for Boeing than ever.