Key Points:

  • The assembly hangar for Airbus’s much-anticipated A321XLR jetliner, not yet airborne, has been unveiled in Hamburg.

  • In prioritizing extended range, the A321XLR's design includes a vast kerosene tank, reducing its air freight capacity.

  • The A321XLR boasts 30% less fuel consumption than Boeing's B757, emphasizing its eco-friendliness and wider range.

Global Demand for A321XLR Rises, but No Freight Version in Sight

TOULOUSE —The A321 Extra Long Range (A321XLR) might still be grounded, but Airbus's Hamburg facility just unveiled its assembly hangar, drawing the attention of 200 select attendees. Interestingly, it wasn't the jetliner itself, but its manufacturing hub that was the ceremony's focal point.

The newly inaugurated hangar left freight forwarders underwhelmed, given that the A321XLR, unlike its A320 family counterparts, won’t cater much to cargo needs. Its lower deck has no cargo compartments, primarily due to a massive tank in its belly region that can hold an extra 13,100 liters of kerosene. Additionally, a container tank in the aircraft's front can accommodate even more fuel. Cumulatively, the aircraft can take on 16,000 liters more fuel than its A320 siblings.

As the A321XLR undergoes initial testing, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is preparing for its certification process, targeted for mid-2024. Following successful certification, Airbus aims to roll out its inaugural A321XLRs to customers.

In the competitive aviation landscape, Boeing lags with no A321XLR counterpart. The older B757, similar in size to Airbus's offering, consumes more fuel, leading to higher greenhouse gas emissions. Airbus accentuates the A321XLR's environmental advantage, touting 30% lesser kerosene usage compared to the B757. Its capability to use Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) over conventional Jet A-1 kerosene further strengthens its green credentials.

Airbus's new jetliner has already attracted nearly 570 orders from 27 distinct clients. Although Hamburg is the primary delivery point, Airbus’s facilities in Mobile, Alabama; Tianjin, China; and Toulouse, France might also participate in its production due to soaring demand.

However, the global cargo sector might be disappointed as Airbus currently has no plans to produce a freighter variant of the A321XLR.