American Airlines could deploy its Airbus A321XLRs on transatlantic routes as early as winter 2023, enabling the Dallas-Fort Worth-based carrier to explore new secondary and tertiary markets in Europe and expand existing seasonal flights.
Speaking to Routes on Feb. 16 from the sidelines of Routes Americas 2022 in San Antonio, Texas, head of international network planning Henning Greiser said the narrowbody aircraft would bolster American’s presence in geographies where it currently has a smaller or no footprint.
“It will open-up markets that we wouldn’t be able to serve otherwise—new cities and niche destinations that will really work well with our network,” he said. “Through our hubs we’ll be able to create many one-stop connections that don’t exist today.”
The oneworld alliance member placed an order for 50 A321XLRs—the longer-range version of the A321neo—in June 2019 and the first deliveries are expected in late 2023.
Greiser said the aircraft would be part of its transatlantic network during summer 2024 but is hopeful that it could enter service earlier. It is expected that American will deploy the A321XLR from US east coast points like Philadelphia and Boston.
Greiser added that extended range of the aircraft will take American “deeper into Europe” where the airline lacks presence, citing parts of Central Europe.
He also said that it would also allow American to convert some existing seasonal services into year-round routes, as well as offering the potential to add frequencies and better-timed flights to and from destinations popular with business travelers.
American intends to fly to 14 points in Europe this summer season from 10 US gateways. The carrier also plans to launch new transatlantic service from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Tel Aviv (TLV) in Israel, and from New York John F Kennedy (JFK) to Doha (DOH) in Qatar.
Although the A321XLR will allow for further network experimentation from late 2023, speaking earlier in the day during a panel discussion entitled Transatlantic Battleground, Greiser said American has focused its European network this summer on tried-and-tested destinations like Rome, Barcelona and Athens that have strong leisure and VFR demand.
However, he added that there are signs that business traffic is starting to return, particularly between the US and London.