Airbus has officially launched its long-range Airbus A321neo (new engine option) with an order for 30 of the narrowbody aircraft from launch customer Air Lease Corporation.
This latest version of the A320neo Family, which was flagged in October 2014, will have a 97 tonne maximum takeoff weight and a range of 4,000 nautical miles, Airbus said on Tuesday (European time), with first delivery from 2019.
The aircraft, to be called the A321LR, also represented the closest either Airbus or Boeing have come to designing a true replacement for the Boeing 757 which is no longer in production but remains popular on routes across the Atlantic between Europe and North America.
Winglet-equipped 757-200ERs have a range of 3,800nm, while the standard A321neo’s range is 3,650nm.
Designed to carry 206 passengers in a two-class configuration, Airbus said the A321LR option would also allow airlines to open new long-haul markets.
“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,” Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy said in a statement.
“This new version of the A321neo is a high revenue generating aircraft which will open up many new opportunities for our customers.”
While the A321LR is pitched at the transatlantic market, locally the new aircraft opens up new nonstop options such as Auckland-Honolulu, Melbourne-Phuket, Brisbane-Tokyo, Cairns-Beijing and Perth-Shanghai, according to an analysis by John Walton in the December edition of Australian Aviation.
Air New Zealand already has the standard A321neo on order, while Jetstar could conceivably convert some of its order for 99 A320neos to the new longer-range member of the A320neo family.
The standard A320neo, on which the A321neo is based, is due for certification and first delivery in the second half of 2015. The A320neo first flew in September 2014 and is currently in flight test.
Separately, Airbus has flown the first 242 tonne maximum takeoff weight variant of its popular A330 twin. The aircraft, built on order for Delta Air Lines, took off on a 3 hours 30 minute test flight from Toulouse on January 12.
The 242 tonne MTOW increases the A330’s range by 500nm.