Aer Lingus has taken delivery of its first Airbus A321LR, becoming the sixth operator worldwide to operate the type. The aircraft, registered EI-LRA, is the first of eight of the model scheduled for delivery to the airline through 2020 from Air Lease Corporation’s (ALC) order book with Airbus. Powered by CFM International Leap-1A engines, the airplane features a two-class cabin configured with 16 business-class and 168 economy-class seats. “The new ALC A321neoLR will enable Aer Lingus to substantially increase the number of flights, frequencies, and new destinations between Ireland and the U.S. and Canada,” commented Air Lease executive chairman Steven Udvar-Házy.
Owing to continued delays to the Airbus A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex) program, Aer Lingus’s newest jetliner arrived a couple of months late. Plans now call for the long-range single-aisle aircraft to enter commercial service on August 2 on the route between Dublin and Hartford, Connecticut, which Aer Lingus now serves with a wet-leased Boeing 757-200 from ASL Airlines Ireland. Under the initial planning, the Irish subsidiary of International Airlines Group (IAG) expected to receive four A321LRs this year, though it remains unclear whether or not that will materialize. Airbus told AIN it could not comment, noting that it defers communication on such matters to the customer. Speaking during the company’s first-quarter results in May, Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said the OEM had to deliver a significant number of A321ACFs and A321LRs during the second half of the year. The European aircraft manufacturer hasn’t changed its target to deliver 880 to 890 aircraft across is programs this year. It had delivered 389 units at the end of June.
The A321LR will join the Aer Lingus Airbus fleet of 13 A330s and 37 A320-family jets.
The airline also expects to receive the latest variant of the A320 family, the A321XLR. At the Paris Air Show in June, IAG ordered six A321XLRs for Aer Lingus and eight for Madrid-based Iberia. It also reserved options for another 14. With first deliveries scheduled for 2023, the airlines expect to be among the launch customers for the model. The aircraft will allow Aer Lingus to launch new routes beyond the U.S. East Coast and Canada, IAG CEO Willie Walsh said. Aer Lingus also holds an order for five A350-900s. Airbus has delivered at least seven A321LRs to six airlines: Israel’s Arkia, Canada’s Air Transat, Azores Airlines, Air Arabia, and Aer Lingus each have taken one example; TAP Air Portugal has accepted two. The Portuguese flag carrier last month received its second A321LR out of 14 on order.