Focused on fleet renewal and expansion, Air Transat awaits for delivery of new Airbus A321XLR planes. The Canadian airline has just revealed the expected delivery date.
A total of four A321XLRs are scheduled to be handed over to Air Transat between the end of 2025 through 2026 under a long-term lease agreement with the US-based lessor Air Lease Corporation. The deal also includes an option for an additional narrow-body to be delivered in 2027, the lessor wrote in the statement shared by Air Transat on September 8, 2022.
Why did Air Transat pick the A321XLR?
The arrival of the Airbus A321XLR [extra-long range – ed. note] jet into the Air Transat fleet is the cornerstone of the airline’s strategic plan for operations between 2022 and 2026. The carrier believes that the XLRs as well as the A321LRs [long range – ed. note] will improve the quality of the airline’s performance during transatlantic operations. Air Transat has estimated that, flying the A321XLR, it would be able to reach Southern European destinations such as Split, and Croatia from its hubs in Montreal and Toronto.
“Adding these three new XLRs to our fleet – with a fourth optional one – will allow us greater operational flexibility as this type of aircraft is very well suited to our needs across our programs annually,” Air Transat chief executive Annick Guerard said.
While attempting to reach its sustainability goals by renewing its fleet with the greenest Airbus plane in its category, the airline also bets on the new levels of comfort and passenger experience its customers will get in-flight.
“Air Transat’s new leasing agreement with our long-trusted partner ALC represents another key milestone in the renewal and simplification of our fleet undertaken since 2017. Adding these three new XLRs to our fleet – with a fourth optional one – will allow us greater operational flexibility as this type of aircraft is very well suited to our needs across our programs annually,” the CEO added.
What is special about the A321XLR?
The A321XLR narrow-body jet, which was officially launched during the Paris Air Show in 2019, can fly as far as 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 kilometers), making it cheaper for its operators to offer longer flights than compared to the cost of larger twin-aisle aircraft.
The aircraft features a permanent Rear Centre Tank (RCT), which can hold 12,900 liters of fuel. Such a design solution allows the A321XLR to fly longer routes connecting destinations like New York (JFK) and Rome (FCO), Tokyo (HND) and Sydney (SYD) or Houston (IAH) and Santiago (SCL) without a refueling stop. Designers also equipped the plane with a strengthened landing gear and an optimized wing trailing-edge flap to preserve take-off performance, according to Airbus.
When will the A321XLR enter commercial service?
It was estimated that the A321XLR would enter service in 2021 or 2022. However, it did not happen due to the pandemic-related disruptions in supply chains. Now the European plane maker expects plane deliveries to start in 2024.
Air Transat, which currently operates an Airbus-only fleet consisting of seven Airbus A321-200s, 12 A321neos, and 12 A330 family aircraft, aims to become the launch customer for the new XLR in the Canadian market.