The Airbus A321XLR was launched at the Paris Air Show on Monday at the Paris Airshow. So why has it been so popular with over 240 commitments?
For many airlines there’s so much that’s better about the A321XLR, it’s not entirely surprising that so many airlines are ordering it. The range is the big seller, adding 15% over the A321LR, which itself has a 15% greater range than the A321neo. Airbus claims a 30% reduction in fuel burn per seat, of which it can fit between 180 and 220 in a typical two-class configuration.
The aircraft has an upgraded landing gear which can support a 101-ton Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) which is necessary to carry the larger rear centre fuel tank. Airlines have the option of also adding extra centre tanks to reach the full 4,700nmi potential of the aircraft. By placing the tanks in this location, Airbus has ensured a large range, whilst still leaving space for plenty of bags and cargo.
According to Airbus:
The A321 has the widest single-aisle cabin in the sky and is a whole seven inches wider than a 737. As a result, seats are often as wide as the economy seats in a widebody, offering 18” as opposed to the 17” of most narrowbody planes.
This extra comfort is much needed as many people have expressed their concern over sitting in a narrow-body aircraft for 10+ hours. Airbus is fitting the XLR with their Airspace Cabin, which promises larger bins, inbuilt connectivity and a jetlag friendly lighting system. With airlines eyeing long haul routes with the A321XLR, the Passenger Experience will be a strong focus in its early days of operations.
These are the airlines that have committed to the A321XLR in its first week of being announced:
- Qantas Group: 36 total, comprising 10 new orders and 26 A321neo swaps (Likely for the LCC Jetstar)
- Air Lease: 27 new A321XLR orders
- Cebu Pacific: 10 new A321XLR orders
- JetBlue: 13 A321neo swaps
- Saudia: 15 new orders
- MEA: Four swaps from the A321neo
- IAG: 28 total, comprising 14 orders and 14 options destined for Aer Lingus and Iberia
- Indigo Partners: 50 total, comprising 32 new orders and 18 swaps
- American Airlines: 50 total, comprising 30 swaps and 20 new orders
- flynas: 10 new orders
As per the list above, many airlines have switched to the XLR from other A320 family orders. This shows that Airbus is allowing the airlines to easily switch between variants so suit their needs, as new aircraft are announced.
Is this a dig at Boeing? Forbes has speculated that the choice of Airbus over Boeing could have been intended as a bit of a dig at the American planemaker. After all, they were the manufacturer who first sold them a long-range, affordable solution, racking up a staggering 533 orders at last year’s Farnborough Air Show.
With the aircraft grounded since April, and looking to stay that way for some time, airlines are struggling to keep their summer schedules on track. In particular, American Airlines’ commitment to 50 of the A321XLR is a blow to Boeing, who would have thought to have had an extended their 737 Max order from American.