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AVIORADAR - Croatian aviation website

Airlines introducing the A321neo on longhaul flights

Written by Ivo Gračanin.

Airbus A321neo

 

In recent times, four-engine or double-engine wide body aircraft have always been used to operate longhaul flights, with a few exceptions, of course. More than 30 years ago, with the arrival of Boeing 757 aircraft, the first longhaul flights on double-engine narrow body aircraft were launched.

Boeing discontinued the production of 757 aircraft in 2004, and since then it is no longer possible to purchase a "small" aircraft with longhaul capabilities. Despite more than 1,000 Boeing 757 aircraft sold, Boeing no longer saw future in this segment and discontinued production, replacing the 757 and 767 with the 787 Dreamliner. However, the 787 is too big and too expensive for shorter longhaul routes, so the need of a cheaper aircraft has arisen. Airbus has realized that their A321neo aircraft, with extended range, could become a worthy replacement for the Boeing 757. Now we can say that they succeeded in this plan, and with almost 2800 aircraft ordered, they dominate the market in this segment. Boeing, with its MAX 9 and MAX 10 aircraft, fails to compete with the Airbus A321neo in the number of aircraft sold. But the Company intends to make a brand new aircraft in this segment, that will dominate the so-called mid-market, also known as the Middle of the Market (MOM). Boeing has not officially introduced the new aircraft yet, and until its launch, the only real "MOM" aircraft is the A321neo. The fact that the A321neo has been recognized as a great longhaul aircraft, can be seen from the following list of airlines that use it on their longhaul flights.

Listed are currently the longest flights by airlines using the A321neo, that last more than 4:30h.

 

Airline

Route

Flight duration (hours)

From

To

La Compagnie

Paris

New York

08:40

TAP Air Portugal

Lisbon

Washington

08:30

S7 Airlines

Blagoveshchensk

Moscow

08:15

Air Transat

Nice

Montreal

08:15

Arkia

Tel Aviv

Goa

08:00

IndiGo

Delhi

Istanbul

07:50

Phillipine Airlines

Brisbane

Manila

07:45

Aer Lingus

Dublin

Hartford

07:35

Air Arabia

Sharjah

Kuala Lumpur

07:10

Azores Airlines

Ponta Delgada

Toronto

07:00

VietJet Air

Tokyo

Ho Chi Minh City

07:00

Alaska Airlines

Fort Lauderdale

Seattle

06:55

JetBlue

Boston

San Francisco

06:50

American Airlines

Phoenix

Honolulu

06:39

Air Astana

Almaty

Istanbul

06:15

Hawaiian

Portland

Honolulu

06:10

Novair

Stockholm

Gran Canaria

06:00

Asiana Airlines

Seoul

Phnom Penh

05:45

SriLankan

Colombo

Guangzhou

05:40

Cebu Pacific

Tokyo

Manila

05:35

China Southern Airlines

Jakarta

Guangzhou

05:35

Wizzair

Budapest

Tenerife

05:35

Air China

Beijing

Chiang Mai

05:20

Onur Air

Berlin

Fuerteventura

05:15

Turkish Airlines

Istanbul

Lisbon

05:05

Sichuan Airlines

Chengdu

Singapore

05:05

British Airways

Larnaca

London

04:55

Bamboo Airways

Seoul

Da Nang

04:40

 

It is shown that the longest flights last more than 8 hours, and with the arrival of the A321XLR, which has an extended range compared to the A321neo and A321neoLR, we can expect much longer flights.

The Airbus A321neo has become the backbone of many airlines' fleets. For example, Hawaiian Airlines connects the Hawaiian Islands with cities on the west coast of the United States with its A321neo aircraft, and can use wide-body aircraft for more distant destinations or those routes with larger numbers of passengers.

La Compagne has configured its A321neo with business class seats only, and flies across the Atlantic Ocean, connecting Paris and New York. Phillipine Airlines uses its A321neo to connect Manila and Australia. Currently, they only fly between Brisbane and Manila, but they used to connect Sydney with Manila in the past. However, the route was taken over by an A330 aircraft. Aer Lingus and TAP Air Portugal will connect their hubs and destinations in North and South America using the A321 aircraft. Air Transat will have a similar strategy. JetBlue has ordered the Long Range version of the A321neo, and they are expected to enter the European market. Air Arabia uses their A321neo to connect Sharjah and Kuala Lumpur. So far they have not been able to do this with other aircraft from their fleet. The Indian airline IndiGo was able to connect India and Europe with a non-stop flight using the A321neo. At the moment, they are only flying to Istanbul, but some new destinations can be expected.

With these examples, we see that airlines have recognized the A321neo as means of opening new longhaul routes or connecting cities with flights that don't generate large numbers of passengers. ČSA has ordered the A321XLR, which shows a new strategy for smaller airlines looking to enter the longhaul market, with wide body aircraft being inaccessible to them either because of lack of money or low number of passengers on their routes.

We also need to mention the capacity and configuration of the A321neo aircraft at different airlines. Some carriers use them in versions with large seat capacity, which reduces passenger comfort, such as Indian carrier IndiGo. The cabin configuration of its A321neo is 222 seats in one class. Unlike IndiGo, Phillipine Airlines configures its A321neo with 168 seats in two classes for their longhaul flights, which makes travel experience similar to wide body aircraft.

The A321neo has certainly a bright future. It is likely that more and more airlines will decide to buy the aircraft and use it to fly on longer routes.

Photo: © Airbus