United Airlines Places $7 Billion Order for Long-Range Airbus A321 Jets

By Jeremy Del Nero on 3 December 2019
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United Airlines and Airbus announced a firm order for 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft late Tuesday.

The Chicago-based airline intends to use the planes for a North Atlantic expansion from its hubs in New York and Washington, D.C.

“The new Airbus A321XLR aircraft is an ideal one-for-one replacement for the older, less-efficient aircraft currently operating between some of the most vital cities in our intercontinental network,” said Andrew Nocella, the airline’s chief commercial officer.

United will likely use the A321XLR to replace some of its single-aisle Boeing 757 aircraft, a type which was last produced 15 years ago.  The XLRs are capable of nine-hour flights.

The Airbus A321XLR was launched at the 2019 Paris Air Show with a range of 4,700 nautical miles (5,708 miles or 9,186 kilometers).

Airbus says the aircraft has significantly quieter engines and aerodynamic wingtips that increase range and fuel efficiency.  It features a permanent rear center tank to hold more fuel, a strengthened landing gear to allow for a maximum takeoff weight of 101 metric tonnes, and an optimized wing trailing-edge flap configuration that will ensure takeoff performance similar to the A321neo.

It is perfectly suited for suited for routes that are long range, but either don’t require the capacity of a twin-aisle aircraft like a Boeing 787 Dreamliner or  A350 or in cases where an airport has limitations on aircraft size due to runway length.

Other airlines that have ordered the A321XLR include launch customer Middle East Airlines as well as British Airways parent IAG, JetBlue Airways, and Qantas. United competitor American Airlines also has 50 XLRs on order. The first deliveries of the aircraft are planned for 2023.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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