MIAMI — Israeli carrier Arkia Airlines has taken delivery of the world’s first Airbus A321LR, capable of traveling up to 4,000 miles on one tank. The airline became the launch customer of the aircraft type following the demise of Primera Air.
The Long Range variant of the A321 family will enable Arkia and all its customers to fly further distances without having to use a wide-body airliner, retaining its position as the only Middle of the Market (MoM) plane in the industry today.
The plane’s first delivery was enabled by the certification that Airbus received on October 2, 2018. The aircraft manufacturer was approved to perform long-haul, ETOPS flights by both Europe’s EASA and the United States’ FAA.
The Israeli carrier had upgraded its initial order for the A321neo to the Long Range variant. It currently has four planes ordered, worth $112 million at current list prices.
The plane, an Airbus A321-251NX bearing the registration 4X-AGH (MSN 8517) joins a fleet of six Embraer ERJ 190/195, one Boeing 757-300 and one Boeing 767-300.
Last summer, the airline launched flights between its home base in Tel Aviv to Paris-Charles de Gaulle with a wet-leased
Following the delivery in Hamburg, the plane departed on a nonstop flight to Tel Aviv. The total flying time is scheduled to last three hours and 47 minutes.
Single Aisle Long Range
The A321LR’s ETOPS capability allows it to fly for up to 180 minutes on a single engine, competent of operating transatlantic routes such as from New York to London and Paris.
Arkia’s A321LRs are powered by two CFM International LEAP-1A engines.
Even though the A321LR is capable of flying routes of 4,000 miles with 206 passengers, Arkia Airlines has chosen to fit its planes with 220 seats in the typical 3-3 configuration, all separated by 31 inches of pitch.
The total number of rows in the cabin is 37, of which the last one has been reserved for crew rest on long flights.
This higher-density configuration will allow Arkia to make shorter flights of approximately 3,300 miles, operating on its current route network.
Future deliveries, however, may vary should the airline wish to deploy the aircraft on longer-haul missions.
The airline has also chosen a cabin configuration with increased galley space, which will allow its cabin crew to offer an improved service.
Product Marketing Director said that Arkia “is enjoying
Arkia plans to deploy its A321LR on European routes, at least on an initial stage, the airline said.
Airbus explains that the Long Range variant of the A321 comes with some key modifications that allow the plane to fly much further than the A321neo.
The new aircraft is equipped with a reinforced landing gear, capable of holding the extra weight that comes with flying further.
The manufacturer upgraded this variant with an increased Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) of 97 tons, needed to permit the installation of the three fuel tanks.
Also, the plane comes with the lighter ‘Airbus Cabin Flex’ (ACF), which adds four emergency exits over the wing and removes the two exits just before the engines.
According to Airbus, the plane comes with minor fuselage innovations that allow more space between seats inside the cabin.
The new A321LR is the quintessential middle of the market aircraft that will blatantly replace the Boeing 757-200.
Airbus claims that the A321LR beats the Boeing 757 by almost 30% in fuel burn.
But Boeing’s response to the A321LR is coming. Next summer, during the Paris Air Show 2019, Boeing is expected to launch the all-new NMA, which is supposed to act as a counterpart to the A321LR.
However, since Airbus was first to come up with a proper MoM replacement, it might be looking to retain its position in the market.
Sources from Reuters are reporting that Airbus is looking at further bumping up the range of its A321 program as the latest effort in trying to pre-empt a potential NMA being studied vigorously by Boeing.
This new version, dubbed the A321XLR (Xtra-Long Range), might involve even more of an additional revamp to the A321LR (Long-Range) aircraft, which recently claimed a long-distance record for the testing of single-aisle jets.