LONDON – Qatar Airways has announced that its order for 50 A321neos will be slightly altered to accommodate for the A321 Long Range variant.

Out of the 50 units on order, 10 will be converted to the long-range variant, offering the airline further options in terms of extended passenger capacity and range.

Qatar Airways CEO, Akbar Al Baker, confirmed that the first deliveries will be in 2020 of the specific unit.

“We have reassessed the requirements of our fleet and determined that the A321LR will bring the additional capability and range to our existing portfolio of aircraft types that we require to successfully support our global route expansion”, he said.

Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer, remains confident that the “A321LR will perfectly match Qatar Airways’ award-winning on-board experience”.

“The A321LR will add a new level of flexibility to Qatar Airways’ operations. The aircraft will support the airline to better serve its existing network while equally accessing new long-haul markets with optimal performance and efficiency.”

“We look forward to seeing the A321LR flying in the colours of Qatar Airways”, he concluded.

The airline will benefit from the A321LR through the increased range of around 4,000 nautical miles, encouraging more long-haul flying onboard.

It is more than likely that the airline will opt for the two-class configuration of 206 passengers, although the LR itself can take up to 244 passengers in a single-class layout.

The A321LR also features an improved Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) compared to the standard A321neo.

MTOW of the A321LR can be as high as 97 tonnes, offering more options for passenger baggage and room for extra cargo if deemed necessary.

It is unclear which routes the A321LR will be deployed on from the airline’s Doha hub. However, the increased range offered by the variant, together with the improved economics might open a whole new array of routes within the Middle East/Europe region.

The carrier is still wanting to achieve up to 250 destinations by the 2022 World Cup in Doha to enable further connectivity to the games and tourism alike.