DALLAS – Ultra-Low-Cost-carrier (ULCC) Frontier Airlines (F9) is exploring joining the transatlantic market and hasn’t excluded long-haul flights to South America, as it awaits delivery of 18 Airbus A321XLRs.
The A321XLR, which completed its maiden flight in June, will be the longest-range single-aisle aircraft constructed in decades when it enters service in 2024. With its 4,700 nm range, the aircraft will be able to fly 30% further than F9’s recently introduced A321neo, and 700 nm farther than the A321LR model.
Exploring New Opportunities
Although the carrier, which operates over 100 Airbus A320 family aircraft, has a sizeable domestic network, it does not yet have any aircraft with the range to fly over the Atlantic. That will alter when the Denver (DEN) based airline starts receiving its new A321XLRs in 2026.
At this week’s Routes World 2022 conference in Las Vegas, F9 CEO Barry Biffle said that the A321XLR “will let us travel to Europe, Hawaii, and deeper into South America” and that transatlantic travel was “definitely in consideration.”
According to Biffle, a member from Ireland’s Shannon Airport (SNN) was “hitting me up because he knows we’ve got the XLR coming.” Providing service to SNN “would be of interest,” but Biffle emphasized that currently, they had made no decisions.
The configuration of the A321XLR has yet to be confirmed. The addition of premium seating, a move from its current single-class layout, has been considered, but again nothing has been decided.
Extra legroom and additional comforts are things that “everyone wants more of,” Biffle added. “The question is, are they willing to pay more? It’s a square footage game. There’s so much square footage on the plane. And what’s the best configuration to generate the most revenue? It’s not taboo for me to have a premium product, but we’ve got to look at it.”
Biffle went on to discuss a recent trip to Airbus headquarters, where the potential route opportunities with the XLR became clear.
“I was in Toulouse three weeks ago and we were going through what the range enabled you to do from various cities in the northeast United States. Effectively, you’d be able to go from Philadelphia (PHL) to everything in the UK, Scotland, and Ireland, and, of course, you can get into mainland Europe.”
“From Miami (MIA), you can pretty much reach just about anywhere in South America. It also enables us to do other interesting things. You can fly from the [US] west coast to the Caribbean.”
Meanwhile, the airline continues to concentrate on connecting US markets with warm-weather vacation locations. “We’ve invested considerably in Jamaica, Cancun (CUN), and the Caribbean generally. We just recently announced Denver to Montego Bay (MBJ), for example,” Biffle added.
Featured Image: F9 currently operates a fleet of 21 A321ceos. Photo: Andrew Henderson/Airways