Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar welcomed its first Airbus A321LR to its fleet over the weekend. The occasion was a momentous occasion for more than one reason – the aircraft will be the first Airbus A321LR to operate in the Australia and Pacific region.
The carrier is due to receive its next eight A321LRs from its order from August 2022 to May 2023. All 18 will be with the Australian carrier by mid-2024.
Welcome to Melbourne
Over the weekend, Jetstar welcomed its first Airbus A321neoLR to Australia at 9:30 local time after a four-year wait.
And what an enthusiastic greeting the aircraft received.
Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans and Airbus Head of Sales Pacific Marie-Frédérique Romain were all in attendance alongside media and ecstatic Jetstar staff with their families.
The impressive range of the A321LR automatically puts east coast cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane within reach of popular destinations in Asia such as Hong Kong, Bali, Bangkok and Tokyo. From Perth, the A321LR can reach popular destinations such as Shanghai, Colombo, Hanoi, the Maldives and Mauritius.
In a few weeks, the aircraft will enter service between Melbourne Airport and Cairns Airport in Queensland.
CEO Evans said that the arrival of the new A321neo is a symbol of “the re-emergence of the airline as it comes out of COVID.”
“This is the first in a pipeline of NEO aircraft for the Qantas Group; we will be taking 18 of the long-range [LR] aircraft over the next two years and a further 20 of the extra long range [XLR], providing even longer range narrowbody flying. The aircraft will also lift the bar for us in terms of comfort for our customers, flying long distances, enabling us to fly to destinations that our existing A320 fleet can’t, and importantly will deliver a much more fuel-efficient way to fly. All of which will help make travel more affordable in Australia.”
In 2011, Jetstar placed an Airbus A321neo order. Turns out that a decision made over a decade ago was “absolutely” the correct decision by the Aussie carrier.
“It was a long time ago and it was absolutely the right decision, and if we had known then what we know now today we wouldn’t have changed a thing, these are the right aircraft for us, arriving for us at absolutely the right time. I think the important thing is the relationship we have with Airbus, the flexibility they have shown us as we try to manage our whole business, as Airbus has had to manage their whole business, through this roller-coaster of things over that period of time, but particularly the last two to three years as we’ve gone through COVID.”
Fits right in!
Jetstar’s new arrival is thought to fit in very well.
For one, Jetstar’s new A321LR is a very sustainable aircraft thanks to being a redesign of the existing A321. The new paint system, lightweight galley carts, and freight containers reduce the weight of the Jetstar A321LR by more than 170 kilograms on each flight. According to Evans, this “translates to a saving of 1.2 million kilograms of fuel annually, a reduction of more than 4,000 tonnes of emissions, the equivalent of removing 1500 cars from roads annually.”
The addition of the CFM LEAP 1A engines contributes to a reduction of emissions. The aircraft also uses 15% less fuel and is 50% quieter than the existing A320ceo aircraft. The aircraft will be destined for domestic routes – the extra capacity will be helpful in allowing the Qantas subsidiary to meet high demand. Long term, CEO Evans envisions a future where the A231LRs will support its current Boeing 787 Dreamliner fleet with both domestic and international routes.
Elsewhere, a further 20 A321XLR aircraft will arrive between 2024 and 2029, providing Jestar with an even longer range of narrow-body flying.
Does this mark the beginning of a new era for Jetstar? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!