Aer Lingus Confirmed as Launch Customer of the A321XLR

Aer Lingus has been confirmed to be the launch customer of the Airbus A321XLR.



February 20, 2024

DALLAS — A source familiar with the matter has confirmed to Airways that Aer Lingus (EI) will be the launch customer of the Airbus A321XLR. The first airframe of the A321XLR, with registration EI-XLR, has been spotted in Hamburg, Germany, indicating that it is bound for EI.

The aircraft features a teal-colored tail painted in the airline's livery with a green shamrock. The Irish flag carrier expects to receive the first A321XLR later this year. The type will boast a two-class layout with lie-flat seats and features inflight entertainment, internet connectivity, and ambient lighting similar to new-generation long-haul aircraft.

At the start of the week, Airbus confirmed that the service entry date for its A321XLR model has been postponed until Q3 2024. The company had previously advised that the first A321XLR had entered its final assembly line in December 2023. Now, EI expects the inaugural flight to be in Fall 2024.

Aer Lingus A321XLR in Hamburg, Germany. Photo: Tobias Gudat, used with permission
Aer Lingus A321XLR in Hamburg, Germany. Photo: Tobias Gudat, used with permission

A321XLR IAG Order

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of EI and Iberia (IB), stated in a 2019 press release that both airlines had ordered Airbus A321XLR aircraft. The order included eight A321XLRs for IB and six for EI, with 14 additional options. Although the A321XLR was priced at US$142 million (2018), IAG "negotiated a substantial discount from the list price."

The release also stated that the first deliveries of these long-range narrowbody aircraft were scheduled for 2023. However, the design raised concerns among European regulators about the risk of fire and evacuation times in the event of an accident, prompting talks over design changes needed for certification. After reaching an agreement with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Airbus is now in the final phases of certifying the type and its fuel tank redesign.

The design of the Airbus A321XLR incorporates a unique rear central fuel tank seamlessly integrated into the contours of the fuselage. This allows for optimizing fuel storage space, resulting in an extended range of approximately 15% compared to Airbus's previous leading single-aisle model, the A321LR.

The A321XLR is set to expand the long-haul fleets of both airlines. For EI, the A321XLR will enable the airline to launch new routes beyond the US East Coast and Canada. This will complement EI's existing fleet of A321LR aircraft, with the first delivery of the A321LR scheduled for this summer. Similarly, IB will use the A321XLR to operate new transatlantic destinations and increase frequencies in crucial markets.

Featured image: Airbus