EI-LRA Airbus A321LR image courtesy of Airbus 

Irish carrier Aer Lingus part of International Airlines Group (IAG) plans to exploit Airbus A321LR North Atlantic growth opportunities, as outlined in IAG Full Year Results 2019 released on Friday 29 February during investor call.  The strategy was further enforced with the release of IAG 2019 Annual Report entitled “Leading Sustainable Aviation”.

International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh in 2019 Annual Report described the introduction of the long-range version of the Airbus A321 as “A Game-Changer”, adding “It allows Aer Lingus to target cities on the eastern side of North America where there is unlikely to be demand for a direct service with a larger aircraft” in reference to A330 platform.

On investor conference call outgoing CEO Willie Walsh said “Aer Lingus has introduced the A321LR on the transatlantic, showing about a 22%, 23% improvement in fuel burn versus the 757. So the unit cost performance of these aircraft are absolutely excellent”.

Willie Walsh added “With the availability of the 321LR and then the XLRs, I think this — what that can do to the network and just the hub at Dublin will facilitate a strong transatlantic growth opportunity for them”.

In a clear statement of intent the A321LR Platform will play a greater role in the North America network the annual report stated “Replacing one Airbus A330 with two Airbus A321LRs also allows the airline to operate multiple frequencies, opening up better connecting opportunities”.

Aer Lingus currently has four Airbus A321LR’s in service leased from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) with two aircraft based in Dublin Airport and two in Shannon Airport. A further four A321LR’s are due for delivery on lease from ALC in Winter 2021.

In June 2019 the International Airlines Group (IAG) ordered six Airbus A321XLR’s for delivery from 2023, plus an unspecified number of options from 14 ordered by the group, enabling the carrier to launch new routes beyond the US East Coast and Canada. The A321XLR has range of up to 4,700nm – 15% more than the A321LR and with 30% lower fuel burn per seat.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh, said “The A321XLR has the same unit cost as a widebody long-haul aircraft which will enable profitable network expansion. This will strengthen Dublin hub providing new transatlantic routes and additional flexibility for connecting passengers. These aircraft will also bring further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits.”

Irish Aviation Research Institute © 6 March 2020 All Rights Reserved.