Qantas has committed to taking delivery of 36 A321XLR aircraft from the 2024 Australian financial year*, in an update of its existing order with manufacturer Airbus.
26 of the Australian flag carrier’s existing A321neo orders will be converted to A321XLRs, and ten more A321XLRs will be added to the order.
The update will see the number of Qantas’ A320 family orders increase from 99 to 109 (28 A321LRs, 36 A321XLRs and 45 A320neos). 18 A321LRs will be delivered to Qantas’ subsidiary airline Jetstar, a low-cost carrier, between mid-2020 and mid-2022. Jetstar will deploy these aircraft on a mix of domestic and international routes.
The revamped order, according to Qantas’ press release, will provide “significant flexibility for the Qantas Group to make adjustments to delivery schedules depending on market conditions”.
The A321XLR, which has just been unveiled at this year’s Paris Air Show, is the longest range single-aisle aircraft produced by Airbus. It has a range of around 8,700 kilometres, which is 15 per cent longer than the A321LR.
*The Australian financial year runs from July 1 to June 30.
Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Group, says that the new A321XLR can fly routes like Cairns-Tokyo or Melbourne-Singapore, which existing narrow-bodies cannot serve. He thinks this “changes the economics of lots of potential routes into Asia to make them not just physically possible but financially attractive”.
“We’ll take a decision closer to the time about which parts of the Group will use these aircraft, but there is plenty of potential across Qantas and Jetstar. We’ll also take a view on whether they are used to replace older aircraft or whether they are used for growth, which will depend on what’s happening in the market,” said Joyce.
Philippines low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific and International Airlines Group (IAG) are also among the companies that have confirmed orders for the new A321XLR aircraft.
Airbus will begin delivering the new A321XLRs to customers from 2023.
Business Traveller Asia-Pacific has recently reported that Qantas is waiting for the US government’s final approval for its proposed joint venture partnership with American Airlines, and after that, it will launch direct Brisbane-Chicago and Brisbane-San Francisco services by the end of April 2020.