Qatar Airways has converted 10 of the 50 Airbus A321neo aircraft it has on order to the longer-range A321LR (long-range), with the first set to be delivered in 2020.
The Doha-based carrier has said it plans to use the aircraft to reach new, growing markets where there is insufficient demand to justify using a long-range widebody aircraft but which are also beyond the range of other narrowbodies.
Qatar Airways will also use the A321LR to offer additional frequency to existing long-haul routes served by larger aircraft.
“We have reassessed the requirements of our fleet and determined that the A321LR will bring the additional capability and range to our existing portfolio of aircraft types that we require to successfully support our global route expansion,” said Qatar Airways Group chief executive, Akbar Al Baker.
The aircraft’s range of up to 4,000 nautical miles (7,400km) puts a sizeable proportion of Asia firmly within its range, and routes to and from the region could be prime candidates for the new aircraft.
The past few months have seen Qatar Airways pay particular attention to frequencies and new routes in Southeast Asia, including launching four weekly flights to Da Nang in Vietnam, and boosting its services to Ho Chi Minh and Bangkok with additional daily flights.
The A321LR’s standard configuration is 206 seats in a two-class setup, but Qatar Airways has not yet announced what configuration it will use for this aircraft.