JetBlue, Wizz Air Eye Contrasting Airbus A321XLR Strategies

When it enters service, the A321XLR will be the longest-range single-aisle aircraft ever produced, with a range of 4,700 nm.

JetBlue Airways and European ULCC Wizz Air are two of the highest profile customers for the Airbus A321XLR, but the two carriers plan to utilize the long-range narrowbody quite differently.

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The A321XLR, which completed its first flight in June and is slated to enter service in 2024, will be the longest-range single-aisle aircraft ever produced, with a range of 4,700 nm–that’s 30% farther than the baseline A321neo and 700 nm more than the A321LR variant.

JetBlue currently operates the A321LR from Boston (BOS) and New York Kennedy (JFK) to both London Gatwick (LGW) and Heathrow (LHR). The Queens, New York-based airline is eyeing deeper penetration into Europe with the XLR, of which it has 13 on order.

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The carrier is putting the emphasis on a premium offering, with plans to configure its A321XLRs with 24 of its Mint-branded lie-flat seats. “We expect two-thirds of the revenue to come from one-sixth of the seats,” JetBlue’s route planning director Eric Friedman told Routes World 2022 conference in Las Vegas. “That’s how important premium is.”

The configuration is expected to be similar to JetBlue’s A321LR aircraft, which feature 138 seats, including 24 Mint seats. Passengers on JetBlue transatlantic flights are also given access to high-speed wi-fi at no extra charge.

ULCC Wizz, which has 47 A321XLR aircraft on order designated for its Wizz Air Abu Dhabi affiliate, on the other hand will configure the aircraft to the maximum capacity of 239 seats in a tight, all-economy layout. Wizz Air Abu Dhabi’s commercial manager Krislen Keri said the carrier is determined to retain its ULCC status, even as it operates long-haul 6-8-hr. routes from Abu Dhabi with the A321XLR. 

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“It can only be successful if we can stick to the [ULCC] model,” he said. “There will be no installation of [in-flight entertainment systems] or premium seats. Customers can bring their own cushions and their own iPads in exchange for lower fares.”

Wizz is an all-A320 family aircraft operator, all of which are configured in a single-class format.

When asked how confident Wizz is that passengers will be willing to sit in ULCC seating for 8 hr., Keri responded: “The passenger will be quite happy because their pocket will be happy. The A321XLR’s range capabilities will give more options to VFR passengers currently flying on very expensive airlines. It will fly to some very exciting destinations. For us, this is a clear win. It’s just a case of launching the routes. We want people to fly more, but pay less. If they’re flying twice a year now, they can fly 4-5 times a year for the same price.”

Source: Routesonline

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