Icelandair has finalized the Memorandum of Understanding for thirteen Airbus A321XLRs. During a signing ceremony in Reykjavik, the airline and airframer sealed the contract that was announced as an MoU three months ago on April 7. Icelandair inks deal for Airbus A321XLRs.
Both parties confirmed that the airline will receive the first -XLR only in 2029, so some five years after the type will enter service next year if it meets all the certification requirements. With over 500 -XLRs now sold and a huge backlog of 4.085 A321neo’s, -LRs, and -XLRs, Airbus has no earlier delivery slots available to Icelandair.
Already in April, CEO Bogi Bogason (on the left in the picture together with Wouter van Wersch, Head of Region and Sales Europe of Airbus) said that Icelandair would bridge the period between the phasing out of the Boeing 757s and the introduction of the A321XLRs by leasing four A321LRs. On Thursday, he confirmed that the carrier has secured these aircraft from SMBC Aviation Capital for delivery from Q4 2024. The lessor has 47 A321neo’s and sub-versions on order, of which 21 had been delivered on June 30.
Bogason reiterated that the A321XLR is the best solution for the replacement of the 757s, exactly as Airbus had in mind when it launched the model at the 2019 Paris Airshow. “The efficient A321XLR aircraft will further strengthen our business model, increase our flexibility and provide opportunities for future growth, as well as further support our sustainability efforts,” he said in a media statement.
Icelandair will decide closer to the delivery dates of the aircraft and how they will be financed. The engine choice also needs confirmation, as is the exact cabin configuration. The carrier has another twelve -XLRs on option.
As reported before, Icelandair has taken its time to evaluate options for the 757 replacements after a process that was launched in 2020. One option was to stick to a single-type Boeing MAX fleet and go for the MAX 10. But with its more restricted range compared to the A321XLR, the Boeing might not work well for Icelandair on its network and longest routes to the US.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.