More than a year ago, the Airbus A321XLR made headlines and made heads turn at the Paris Air Show 2019. The travel landscape was much different, however. Yet the A321XLR could retain its hot stock and for those who ordered the aircraft, help them recover faster from the current crisis. But which airlines have it on order?

The list is quite diverse and includes more than 20 airlines and two leasing companies, namely Air Leasing Corporation and GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). North America and Asia-based carriers booked the majority of orders, as such airlines as IndiGo, American Airlines, and United Airlines have the biggest order books for the A321XLR.

Low-cost carriers, however, are responsible for the majority of the order book. Out of more than 450 orders, mainline carriers increased Airbus’ backlog by 165 A321XLRs.

 

 

Reasoning the A321XLR’s potential success

When Airbus officially announced the aircraft, it was met with a lot of joy and a fair share of pessimism. For airlines, the aircraft promised an unprecedented level of flexibility. With a potential to seat 244 passengers in a single-class configuration or between 180 and 220 in a two-class layout, and a range of up to 4,700 nautical miles, the aircraft can respond to demand on routes that do not suffice a wide-body, yet are too busy or too far away for an average narrow-body.

For passengers, the thought of sitting on board a narrow-body aircraft for eight or nine hours was not something that could bring a smile to one’s face, especially in a low-cost cabin configuration with lackluster seating and scarce entertainment. 

The A321XLR seemed like a perfectly warranted response to the paper airplane that was the Boeing New Midsize Aircraft (NMA), which now returned back to the drawing board as stated by Boeing’s chief executive David Calhoun in January 2020. Airlines wanted a replacement for their aging 757s and 767s and seemingly, Airbus perfectly hit the nail on the head with the extended range A321.

Prior to the widespread outbreak of COVID-19, the European manufacturer put its estimates at 1,000 sales over the coming decade at the Singapore Airshow 2020. However, despite the outbreak, the prediction might still come true. After all, its competition is as good as a paper airplane manufactured by a bored office employee.

 
With a change at the top, Boeing's tune is changing. Including the fact that Calhoun officially announced that the manufacturer will rethink the design of its much-anticipated jet, the NMA.
 

Flexibility

While currently, the demand for air travel plummeted to unprecedented lows, including the forward-looking bookings, it is destined to recover. For example, Vasu Raja, Senior Vice President of Network Strategy at American Airlines, mentioned during the company’s Q1 2020 investor’s call that a simplified fleet would allow the airline to be “a lot more lean and a lot more nimble, a lot more capable of being able to move fleets around markets, respond to a recovery when and if it comes.”