Airbus stole the limelight on day one of the Paris Air Show by launching the A321XLR, a much-awaited long-range, single-aisle airliner.
The company also announced that it would be selling 100 planes to U.S. plane lessor Air Lease Corporation (ALC), of which 27 will be A321XLRs. The ALC order also includes 23 A321neos and 50 A220-300s. Lebanese operator Middle East Airlines (MEA) is the launch airline customer for the new aircraft with a firm order for four aircraft.
Company officials said at a press conference that the new aircraft would have 30% lower fuel burn per seat than previous-generation competitor aircraft. Starting from 2023, the aircraft would have the longest single-aisle plane range in the world at 4,700 nautical miles, 5% more than the A321LR and with the same fuel efficiency. According to Christian Scherer, the chief commercial officer for Airbus, the A321XLR would have a newly designed Rear Centre Tank (RCT) for more fuel volume and a modified landing gear for an increased maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 101 metric tonnes.
According to the company, the introduction of the aircraft would allow carriers to operate a lower-cost single-aisle aircraft on longer and less heavily travelled routes, which can now only be served by larger and less efficient wide-body aircraft. This will enable operators to open new world-wide routes such as India to Europe or China to Australia.