Airbus has officially launched the A321neo with a 97 tonne Maximum Take Off Weight (MTOW) having secured the first commitment from Air Lease Corporation (ALC). The Los Angeles based lessor has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 30 more A321neo, upsizing its commitments at the 2014 Farnborough Airshow from 60 to 90 and becoming the launch customer for Airbus’ increased range option.
The new 97 tonne MTOW option for the A321neo will have the longest range of any single aisle airliner at 4,000 nautical miles, making it ideally suited to transatlantic routes and will allow airlines to tap into new long haul markets which were not previously accessible with current single aisle aircraft.
Airbus already offers four versions of the A321neo with MTOW of between 89 tonnes and 93.5 tonnes and a range of around 3,500 nautical miles. The new option will bring a significant increase in city pairs within its additional 500 nautical mile range; albeit there will likely be a capacity restriction of around 164 seats for such missions.
“We are excited to be the first to sign for the new longer range version of the A321neo,” said Steven F. Udvar-Házy, chairman and chief executive officer, Air Lease Corporation. “ALC wants a footprint in every promising market segment, including ones that can be opened by this new version of the A321neo. We pride ourselves in being able to provide our customers with the very latest, most innovative products and solutions.”
Thanks to an additional fuel tank in the forward underfloor hold of the aircraft, as well as minor improvements on the wing and fuselage, the 97 tonne MTOW A321neo will be able to fly 206 up to passengers and on longer routes of up to 4,000 nautical miles in a two-class layout. First deliveries will have started by 2019, according to the manufacturer.
“The longer haul single aisle market is a lucrative one that the A321neo will now dominate, thanks to the aircraft’s superior comfort, economics and range.”John Leahy
Chief Operating Officer, Customers, Airbus
This new version of the A321neo can be a high revenue generating aircraft on long-range missions which will open up many new opportunities for airlines, not limited just to the transatlantic market. However, Airbus sees the aircraft as offering true transatlantic potential, a market where we are already seeing a growth in the usage of short-haul aircraft on Transatlantic.
“The longer haul single aisle market is a lucrative one that the A321neo will now dominate, thanks to the aircraft’s superior comfort, economics and range,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers.
Under the assumption that ALC’s MoUs for 30 A321neo aircraft plus 25 A330neo Family become firm orders, ALC’s total orders for Airbus aircraft would stand at 258 (53 A320ceo Family, 140 A320neo Family, 15 A330 Family, 25 A350 XWB Family and 25 A330neo Family).
Alongside the lessor’s commitment for the new version of the A321neo, Airbus is known to have held talks about the aircraft with American Airlines and others having started to informally offer the aircraft to customers from the final quarter of last year.
A successor to the Boeing 757
The aircraft is viewed as a successor to the Boeing 757 which remains in service with US majors American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines on longer distance routes across the Atlantic, to Hawaii and to Latin America and many other operators. Icelandair has taken advantage of its geographical position to offer regular flights to North America and Europe using its Boeing 757 fleet via its hub at Keflavik International Airport.
It is understood that the new long-range sub-variant of the A321neo will have trip cost and per seat cost savings of around 25 per cent versus the older generation Boeing 757, while having a similar flight envelope.
According to OAG Schedules Analyser, a total of 28 published airlines are operating scheduled 757 flights this month offering a total of 33,000 departures, over 1,000 a day. The type is being used on 1,305 city pairs this month with its largest operations from Atlanta, Newark, New York, Miami and Minneapolis. The longest route served by the type in January 2015 is
As the chart, below, highlights, Delta Air Lines is the largest operator of the type (40.3 per cent share of January 2015 frequencies), followed by United Airlines (17.4 per cent share), American Airlines (16.4 per cent share) and US Airways (4.7 per cent share).
China Southern Airlines is the largest operator of the type outside of the United States with a 3.8 per cent share; while Icelandair is the largest European operator of the type (3.3 per cent share).