Airbus has completed the first flight of its A321 XLR (Xtra Long Range) aircraft.

The single-aisle plane – which was first unveiled at the Paris Airshow in 2019 – will have a range of up to 8,700 km, 15 per cent more than the existing A321 LR.

Aircraft MSN 11000 took off from Hamburg-Finkenwerder airport on Wednesday, and completed a test flight lasting around four and a half hours.

Airbus has had over 500 orders for the A321 XLR, which is due to enter service in early 2024. Air Canada announced an order for 36 of the extra long range aircraft in March of this year, with other customers including United, American Airlines and Qantas.

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Airbus has previously said that the aircraft’s increased range will enable airlines to operate routes such as India to Europe or China to Australia “using single-aisle aircraft with better fuel efficiency and lower costs”.

Commenting on the news Philippe Mhun, Airbus EVP programmes and services, said:

“This is a major milestone for the A320 Family and its customers worldwide. With the A321XLR coming into service, airlines will be able to offer long-haul comfort on a single aisle aircraft, thanks to its unique Airspace cabin. The A321XLR will open new routes with unbeatable economics and environmental performance.”