July 4, 2019

A321XLR; a Game Changer?

Airbus A321 has been in service for many years. As its success has been proven, it continues to be improved and manufactured. It is not new ideas to offer a more economical new engine option for civil aviation (especially for Airbus) and extend the range with additional fuel tanks. Airbus continued this tradition and showcased its new model A321XLR aircraft at the 2019 Paris Air Show. The plane really got a lot of attention. The bulk of the previous A321NEO and A321LR orders belonging to this series were converted to A321XLR. It has received a substantial order for a new model aircraft. Beyond orders, it has been interpreted as “exciting” by executives of major airlines.

The story of the A321XLR is simply as follows; A new engine was designed for the existing A321 aircraft, resulting in the A321NEO (New Engine Option). The A321LR (Long Range) was created by adding additional fuel tank to the A321NEO aircraft. The A321XLR (Extra Long Range) was revealed when a second additional fuel tank was put in.

Despite the traditional changes, how did the A321XLR sit in such a special position?

- First, currently flying Boeing 757s are too old now and it is the only candidate to replace them. There is no alternative in the single-aisle and dual-engine aircraft segment that can carry 220+ passengers for distances up to 6-7 hours of flight.











- The type rating was unchanged as the A321XLR was built on the traditional A321 design. The same flight crews are comfortable to fly this plane, with a little additional training

- Low Cost Carrier concept can be applied to long-haul flights now. Tickets can be sold in much more convenient price without the promise of more comfort, food and a flight-entertainment system. Low Cost ETOPS concept will begin. Due to the relatively low number of seats, the advantages of small airports close to large cities will be widely utilized for long haul flights.

- New flight routes will be available to bypass the Hub and Spike model. Long haul flights will not be limited to cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Dubai or New York.

- Contrary to Low Cost Carrier logic, “Business Class Only” cabin concept can provide a much higher quality flight experience. La Compagnie Boutique Airline type of business models will increase.

- Wide-body and narrow-body aircraft, which could not be used in place of each other before, will be able to replace each other to the extent permitted by the number of passengers. In the event of a wide-body aircraft failure or insufficient passenger quantity, it may be possible to transport its passengers with a narrow-body aircraft.

It's impossible not to get excited when we think about all these factors together. Of course, after the bitter experience of A380, all airlines are more cautious about such efficiency or saving promises. If Airbus's promised XLR savings and range can be realized in practice, it will disrupt existing business models and replace them with new ones for sure.

The aircraft is scheduled to begin its intensive service as of 2023.

Let’s wait and see!