Further to reports we wrote about last week, Airbus have formally announced their A321XLR at the Paris Air Show. Airbus released the aircraft with a 27 aircraft order from Air Lease Corp as part of a larger deal for some 100 airframes, alongside 23 standard A321neos and 50 A220’s, previously known as the Bombardier C-Series.
The A321XLR, which features a 700 nautical mile range increase to 4,700nm is made possible by replacing the temporary center tanks with a single, larger permanent Rear Centre Tank (RCT) . With no competitor in production from Boeing, the A321XLR is a move to cover off the expected Boeing NMA, or New Midsize Airplane, widely expected to be called the 797. By releasing an aircraft much earlier than Boeing Airbus are able to capture orders from airliners who will need the aircraft sooner than Boeing can offer, with the NMA not expected to enter service until at least 2025.
Currently Airbus offer two other variants of the A321, with the base A321neo and A321LR being currently in production. No list price has been given by Airbus, who currently sell the existing A321neo for $129.5 million
Speaking to journalists, John Plueger, CEO of Air Lease Corp stated, “It does provide a very effective airplane for many of the same routes as the NMA, and it does so many years earlier.”
Willie Walsh, CEO of International Airlines Group (IAG), said to Flight Global that the aircraft would definitely be a fit for Aer Lingus and Iberia, whilst it was also interesting for BA and Level, “It gives us range, which is important, and it gives us payload security, which is equally important as well – so it is good.” The LEVEL CEO, Vincent Hodder had previously stated that they would “investigate” whether or not to purchase the aircraft, “No decision is made, but we are studying both planes. The A321XLR is a monster. Its range is great.”
Nick Ashwell-Rice has worked in aviation and defence journalism since 2014 whilst also maintaining a career outside of the industry. He has been Editor-in-Chief at Talking Aero since its inception