Coverage by Chris Sloan

PARIS – As expected, the Airbus A321XLR has had continued success just one day into its launch with a second major order announced by Lebanese carrier, Middle East Airlines.

The manufacturer confirmed that MEA would be the launch customer for the type with four aircraft, followed by the 27 A321XLRs that leasing giant, ALC, ordered earlier today.

With this order, the A321XLR has scored 31 orders on the first day of the Paris Air Show, with many more expected to come over the next two days.

With these A321XLRs, there are 11 standard A321neos that MEA will also receive, with deliveries due to begin from 2020.

The XLRs will be delivered to MEA by 2023, offering up to 4,700 nautical miles in range, about 15% more than the A321LR.

In addition to these extended range A321s, the Lebanese carrier placed an order for four Airbus A330-900 back in December 2018. The airline plans to use the new A330neos to upscale its current operations, rather than replace other aircraft, opening up new routes and adding capacity onto existing ones.

As of today, MEA operates a fleet of 13 Airbus A320ceos, and five A330-200s.

The Up-Gauged A321XLR

Airbus launched the A321XLR earlier this morning and has been subject to a lot of hype in the media.

To increase the A321’s range, Airbus will increase the maximum take-off weight (MTOW) to 101tonnes, install a new Rear Fuel Tank (RCT), and will enhance the wing trailing-edge flap configuration in order to maintain the same take-off performance of the new aircraft.

Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer, stated that a secondary hub on the west coast of the US could fly nonstop to Europe with the A321XLR. Steve Udvar-Hazy, ALC’s chief, also mentioned that Chicago-Barcelona would be an ideal route for this plane whenever loads aren’t high enough to fill up a widebody airliner.

This range will open a lot of new possibilities for airlines and may serve as a direct replacement to aging Boeing 757s.

The A321XLR will also incorporate the Airspace cabin, which is to be introduced to all A320neo family aircraft, as standard from 2020.

It also opens the possibility for new routes, which are currently unprofitable with widebody aircraft.

The A321XLR cements the shift within the industry to more point to point routes.