October 2, 2018, marked a significant milestone for Airbus. The Airbus A321LR finally received certification from EASA and FAA. This means Airbus is now certified:
- to install up to three optional ACTs (fuel tanks) in the A321neo, with their associated new fuel management systems and lower-fuselage structural reinforcements
- to provide A321neo’s “Airbus Cabin Flex” (ACF) option which incorporates a modified fuselage structure and a new door arrangement, together with a higher Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) capability of up to 97 metric tonnes
Airbus A321LR has an ETOPS authorisation of up to 180 minutes single-engine diversion time, which is sufficient for performing any transatlantic route. Airlines would need to specify that they need the higher MTOW version while ordering so that lower-fuselage structural reinforcements are added. After delivery, the ACTs (Additional Centre Tanks) can be added or removed as per requirement. This gives higher flexibility to airlines.
We have already covered A321LR capability and primary data which you can read by clicking on this link. Israel’s LCC arkia will be the launch customer for the Airbus A321LR and will receive the first aircraft in December 2018. Primera was initially the launch customer for the A321LR, but it shut shop earlier this week and filed for bankruptcy.
IndiGo has ordered 25 Airbus A321neo as a part of a larger order with Airbus. IndiGo will receive 20 Airbus A321LR after taking delivery of 5 A321neo with 1 ACT. IndiGo’s plan is plain and straightforward: Launch LCC operation to Europe and Far-East. They plan on adding flights to London Gatwick from New Delhi, to begin with. Then other routes may follow. There has been chatter about launching flights to Hong Kong also.
Another Indian carrier that has Airbus A321neos on order is Vistara. They have 50 A320 family aircraft on order but haven’t specified the exact distribution between A320neo and A321neo. Will Vistara take delivery of A321LR? Will they use its long range to expand to thin and long routes?
The A321LR will help open up new markets where flying larger widebody aircraft isn’t economically viable. What we need to see is if IndiGo will be able to take advantage of this additional range to open up new virgin routes or add capacity on existing routes?