It was announced earlier today that leading American carrier, United Airlines, would be purchasing 50 Airbus A321-XLR (Extra Long Range)long-range narrowbody aircraft, following plans to renovate it’s ageing fleet.
The move, confirmed by Airbus this morning, is a major swing for the carrier who’s 789-aircraft strong fleet, is mainly composed of Boeing manufactured aircraft. In a previous statement United had confirmed they were interested in Boeing’s new MMA (Mid-Market Airplane) dubbed the Boeing 797, but were also considering the (already operational) Airbus A321XLR.
Following United’s order, the carrier has confirmed they are expecting to receive their first 50 of the new aircraft in 2024, beginning international service with the type in 2025 – allowing for a year of domestic-route testing.
Speaking about the decision, United’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Andrew Nocella, said:
The A321XLR [is] an ideal one-for-one replacement in our intercontinental network. In addition to strengthening our ability to fly more efficiently, the A321XLR opens potential new destinations to further develop our route network and provide customers with more options.
What is the Airbus A321-XLR?
Airbus has been operating the larger variant of the A320 family, the 321, since 1994, launching service of the type with launch customer Lufthansa. Since then, over 1900 examples have been produced. During the 2019 Paris Airshow of this year, Airbus unveiled the latest edition of the type, the A321-XLR. The type will have one large (centre) fuel tank, allowing a range of 4,700nm (8,700km) – this compares to the 3200nm of the A321ceo (Classic Engine Option) and 4000nm of the A321neo (New Engine Option).
Further adding to the benefits of an extended range, the 321XLR will have a 30% lower fuel consumption per seat ratio, beating operating costs of previous variants.
What are your thoughts on this order? Is this a blow for the 797 project before it has even, formally, been announced? Let us know below!