Published on June 18th, 2019 | by Alan Dwyer


Order placed for Six Airbus A321XLRs for Aer Lingus

The parent company of Aer Lingus, the International Airlines Group (IAG), is ordering six Airbus A321XLR aircraft for Aer Lingus with a further eight on order for Iberia, plus 14 options. The airlines will be among the launch customers for the extra long-range narrowbody aircraft with their first deliveries scheduled for 2023.  The A321XLR will be used to expand both Aer Lingus and Iberia’s existing longhaul fleets.  Each aircraft will be fitted with Economy and Business cabins including full flat seats. They will also feature the same gate-to-gate inflight entertainment, internet connectivity and ambient lighting as new generation longhaul aircraft. These aircraft will enable Aer Lingus to launch new routes beyond the US East Coast and Canada. Aer Lingus is already taking eight Airbus A321neo LR on lease with the first delivery scheduled for this summer. At current list prices, the deal is worth in the region of US$2 billion but the IAG is expected to have negotiated a substantial discount. For Iberia, this is a new aircraft type that will enable it to operate new transatlantic destinations and increase frequencies in key markets.

Chief Executive of IAG Willie Walsh

Speaking at the Paris Air Show where the announcement was made, Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: “The A321XLR has the same unit cost as a widebody longhaul aircraft which will enable profitable network expansion. This will strengthen both Dublin and Madrid hubs providing new transatlantic routes and additional flexibility for connecting passengers. These aircraft will also bring further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits.”

In a surprise announcement at the Paris Air Show, IAG also announced its intention to purchase up to 200 Boeing 737MAX aircraft. A letter of intent was signed for a mix combination of the 737 MAX 8, which seats up to 178 passengers in a two-class configuration, and the larger 737 MAX 10 jet, which can accommodate as many as 230 passengers. The airline did not disclose a specific split between the two MAX models, though it anticipates deploying the aircraft at a number of the group’s airlines including Vueling and LEVEL. Although Vueling and LEVEL have been exclusively Airbus operators, previously, British Airways and Aer Lingus have operated the 737 classic series. This news is a welcome boost to Boeing as this is the first new potential order for the MAX aircraft since it was grounded in March this year following two fatal crashes. At the announcement of the deal, Willie Walsh commented that he has every confidence in Boeing and expect that the aircraft will make a successful return to service in the coming months having received approval from the regulators. The value of this deal is expected to be in the region of US$24 billion and the first deliveries to be expected from 2023 and beyond.

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