Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Exclusive: Airbus launches “A321neoLR” long range to replace 757-200W

Airbus has started marketing a long-range, higher gross weight version of the A321neo that it says will have 100nm more range than the Boeing 757-200W used on long range, trans-Atlantic routes, Leeham News and Comment has confirmed.

We learned three weeks ago Airbus was working on what we will call the A321neoLR (Long Range); Airbus doesn’t yet have a name for it, but began showing the details to airlines a week ago. The airplane is a higher gross weight aircraft, at 97 tonnes, and will have three auxiliary fuel tanks. With most long-range 757 configurations around 169 seats (United Airlines), the A321neoLR will have 164 seats, a slight loss, with 20 lie-flat business seats and the remainder in coach configuration.

Our analysis, which will be detailed in a Subscription post this week, comes very close to the Airbus specification.

Kiran Rao, EVP sales and marketing for Airbus. Photo: Airbus.

Kiran Rao, EVP sales and marketing for Airbus, confirmed the new model today. He said the A321neoLR will have a range of 3,900nm, or about 100nm more than the operational range of the 757W. (Advertised range is 4,100nm.) The additional fuel tanks add 400-500nm to the A321neo’s range, he said.

Intended markets are North America-trans-Atlantic, North American to South America, Europe to Africa and SE Asia to Australia. There are about 100 757-200Ws in operation and some 700-800 757s remaining in service.

The A321neoLR will have about 27% lower trip costs and 24% lower per seat costs than the 757, Rao told us. Overall, the LR will be about 25% less costly to operate, he said.

Entry into service is slated for the second half of 2018, about two years after the standard A321neo. Due to technical differences, the standard A321neo won’t be retrofittable into an LR standard, he said.

Helping the A321neoLR is the 2% fuel burn improvement Airbus contracted with Pratt & Whitney for the Geared Turbo Fan engine, which becomes available then. The LR will also be available with the CFM LEAP-1A.

“Maintenance costs will be lower than the 757. There will be lower navigation fees and lower engine costs,” Rao said. “[The A321neoLR] will be a very unique aircraft when compared with the [Boeing] 737-9, which has no development legs left in it.”

We will have our full, detailed economic analysis of the A321neo LR vs the 757 in Part 2 of this three part series this week. Part 1 appeared last week.

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