Australia’s Qantas Airways has placed an order for 36 Airbus A321XLRs, the airline announced Wednesday. The deal involves a conversion of an existing order for 26 A320neos and a new firm order for 10 A321XLRs.
Qantas said the deal offers “significant flexibility” for the airline group—which includes Qantas low-cost carrier—to make adjustments to delivery schedules, depending on market conditions. It added that the XLR will improve fleet flexibility and network options for potential use by different airlines in the Qantas Group. Its 4,700-nm range means the carrier can open new destinations or replace widebody aircraft on existing routes.
The A321XLR’s range exceeds that of the A321LR by 15 percent, thanks to additional fuel tanks in the belly of the aircraft plus improved aerodynamics and a 25 percent increase in mtow compared with the group’s existing A320s.
“We already know the A320 is a great aircraft and this new variant can fly further and more efficiently than any other single-aisle jet on the market,” said Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce. “It can fly routes like Cairns-Tokyo or Melbourne-Singapore, which existing narrowbodies can’t, and that changes the economics of lots of potential routes into Asia to make them not just physically possible but financially attractive.
“We’ll take a decision closer to the time about which parts of the group will use these aircraft, but there is plenty of potential across Qantas and Jetstar. We’ll also take a view on whether they are used to replace older aircraft or whether they are used for growth, which will depend on what’s happening in the market.”
As announced in early 2018, the first deliveries from the group’s A320-family order will begin with 18 A321LRs for Jetstar, arriving between mid-2020 and mid-2022. They will operate a mix of domestic and international routes.
The first A321XLR would be available to the Australian company from the 2024 financial year onwards. The Qantas Group A320 family order count now stands at 28 A321LRs, 36 A321XLRs, and 45 A320neos, with continued flexibility around timing and structure in negotiation with Airbus.