The 18 A321neoLRs will be the first aircraft to be delivered from the Qantas Group’s longstanding order for 99 A320neo family aircraft.
Qantas said the A321neoLR would be able to operate Jetstar’s Melbourne and Sydney to Bali routes, freeing up Boeing 787-8s to be redeployed to other destinations in China, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as Honolulu in the United States.
“All 18 A321LR NEOs are expected to be delivered by the end of 2022 to replace Jetstar’s oldest A320s for use on domestic and international routes, and will each deliver a fuel burn improvement of around 15 per cent,” Qantas said on Thursday.
Previously the Qantas order of 99 Airbus A320neo (new engine option) family aircraft was structured to comprise 54 A320neo and 45 of the larger A321neo, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2019.
Instead Qantas now says the order “retains flexibility with the sequencing of the rest of its A320neo order, which is approximately an even split of 232-seat A321LR neos and 186-seat A320neos.”
Qantas placed its original order the A320neo series in October 2011, while the CFM LEAP-1A engine was selected for the aircraft in 2012.
The A321neoLR has a maximum takeoff weight of 97 tonnes and features optional extra fuel tanks to enable the aircraft to have a range of up to 4,000nm.
The first A321neoLR (or A321LR for short) completed its first flight on January 31, commencing a 100 hours flight test program. Certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected in the second quarter of calendar 2018, with entry into service before the end of the year.