As we write this Airbus has a test flight going from La Bourget (Paris) to New York’s JFK. Several aircraft do this flight daily. But this particular flight is being done by the new A321LR.
This flight is important because it signifies the start of a move by Airbus to directly focus on replacing Boeing 757s that regularly do trans-Atlantic flights. Replacing the 757 has been a dream for the A321 team for a long time. In the A321LR they have the best opportunity. There are only ~60 757s that do these flights. Replacing these few 757s isn’t the goal. But being able to replace those few means that the A321LR can replace any 757 flight that gets close to the 4,000NM range.
The 757 occupied its special spot without a real competitor to date. It was interesting to see that long after the last 757 went off to China (it now flies for Delta), market attraction for the aircraft grew rather than faded. It is also interesting that whereas Airbus saw a market for replacing the 757, Boeing did not. The 737 models like the -900ER and MAX9 or MAX10 do not match the 757 as well as the A321neo/LR do.
As we have seen, Norwegian is using MAX8s across the North Atlantic. WOW uses their A32oneos to serve Canada. The market is being disrupted by longer range single-aisle aircraft. The A321LR is going to be the most capable single-aisle aircraft in terms of range and that is what makes today’s flight special. WOW has already used their new A321neo to serve Los Angeles and San Francisco. If the A321neo can do this, how much more can we expect of the A321LR? Today’s flight is likely to be one of several very long range flights showing off the capabilities of the A321LR.