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A321LR: the latest evolution of the A320neo Family

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The arrival of the A320neo Family has opened new possibilities for airlines. In particular, the A321neo will offer operators increased range flexibility compared to current generation single-aisles. Historically, airlines have fully exploited the range capability of any aircraft, and this development will enable them to do the same with the A320neo Family.

Up until now, aircraft such as the A319 were used as route openers on longer range sectors, but airlines are confronted with one obstacle – – as yields decline with distance, margins erode on longer sectors. Thanks to larger aircraft, this yield erosion can be recovered by offering more seats (i.e. lower cost per seat, allowing greater profit margin). In addition, the size of the A321 has become more and more popular, simply because the industry is growing and is ever more competitive. The bottom line: airlines require larger and more cost-efficient aircraft.

As a consequence, it is no surprise to see increasing interest in the most recent version of the A321neo, the A321LR which can now typically fly 206 passengers 4,000nm, thanks to the new 97t MTOW (Maximum Take-Off Weight) combined with two or three ACTs (Auxiliary Center Tanks). These types of missions, comparable to what the 757 was capable of, requires long-haul comfort –  two or three classes with lie-flat Business class seats, maybe a Premium Economy section and the Airbus 18” width comfort seats in Economy class. This results in seat counts typically between 165 and 180 seats, which, when combined with the low seat-mile cost of the A321neo, provides conditions to ensure very profitable, low risk operations on a long-haul networks.

4,000nm range opens up entirely new markets to the A321LR at 30% lower cost than today’s 757: East Coast to Europe. North America to South America. Hawaii to West Coast and beyond. On flights to South America, the A321LR paves the way for more point-to-point possibilities, bypassing the need to stop anywhere in the middle, and at no risk for operators. Another win-win-win combination offered by the A320neo Family.

At first glance Airbus’ target of 1,000 aircraft seems ambitious, but once you look beyond the pure 757 replacement market it quickly becomes apparent that there is huge potential out there. Remember when U.S.-transcontinental markets were served mostly by 757s and 767s? Well, today A320s and 737s dominate on these routes. So, what if something similar happens, for example, on the transatlantic market thanks to super-efficient long-range single-aisles like the A321neo?