Live from Airbus HQ: A321LR Delivery

Good Morning from Airbus HQ, here in Hamburg, Germany. The manufacturer are almost ready to handover the first ever A321LR to worldwide launch customer, ARKIA Airlines.

Arkia Airlines is a small, Israeli airline, founded in 1949, and now owned by the Nakash family.

The airline serves several destinations, including to cities in Azerbaijan, Spain, Greece, and even Thailand.

The Arkia fleet currently consists of a single Boeing 757-300 (somewhat of a rarity these days), along with Embraer E-jets. The airline is also currently leasing a ‘Neos’ Boeing 767, until it’s A321LR aircraft begin arriving.

The A321LR is the Airbus aircraft working to secure position as the ‘MoM’ – the ‘middle of the market’ jet, an aircraft that can operate long haul routes, but doesn’t require the heavy passenger demand in order to make it a profitable flight.

Arkia Airlines upgraded its original order for the A321neo, and then became the launch customer following the collapse of Primera Air — who were set to be the first to take the long range variant of this ‘neo’ jet, prior to its bankruptcy.

The airline selected CFM International’s LEAP-1A engine to power all four of its Airbus A321LR’s, in an order valued at $112 million at list prices.

This A321LR is the largest and heaviest member of the A320 family, and can seat up to 240 people, while having the ability to fly more than 4,000 nautical miles nonstop. It means this single-aisle aircraft easily capable of flying a route such as Paris (CDG) to New York (JFK).

I’ve highlighted more than as it’s becoming quiet clear that the A321LR can fly further than 4,000…much further in fact.

We know the A321LR can fly further than it ‘says on the tin,’ because of Icelandic carrier, WOW Air.

WOW Air have already operated A321neo (the smaller range version of A321LR) flights between Reykjavik (KEF) and Los Angeles (LAX) — a route well in excess of the expected range of a normal A321neo.

While it’s not known how many seats WOW Air blocked in order to fly such a journey, it’s already demonstrated the long-range capabilities of the A321neo family, which leaves exciting prospects for a long range A321neo aircraft, the A321LR.

When I sat down with members of the A321LR program in Toulouse recently, they told me “airlines are exploring different seating configurations with us, that will enable them to fly much further (in terms of range) than we already guarantee.”

On the A321LR, there are some fuselage modifications allowing for more space for seats inside the cabin.

Furthermore, there’s a reinforced landing gear (to support the heavier weight of the jet), and a new rear section — with a ‘Airbus Cabin Flex’ exit-door configuration, in order to maximise cabin space.

Arkia is based in Tel Aviv, Israel, and plans to use the new aircraft initially on European routes, before exploring new markets further afield.

The cabin will consist of 220 seats, in a 3-3 configuration — with 31″ seat pitch at every seat.

In my next post, I’ll take you onboard Arkia’s first A321LR — the worldwide launch customer for this new Airbus jet. Stay tuned for updates on Twitter, @AlexInAir

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