Airbus is in talks with potential customers for its A321XLR

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Malaysian low-cost operator AirAsia is in talks with Airbus to order the upcoming longer-range variant of the A321neo.

Airbus has already begun to talk with the potential customers of its new longer-range single-aisle A321XLR ahead of the likely announcement of the program at the Paris Air Show this month. AirAsia is rumored to be among these potential customers.

Airbus and Air Asia, however, did not confirm the news reported by Reuters.

AirAsia is one of the biggest Airbus operators with 100 A321neo and 232 A320 jets in service and further 270 on order.

The long-haul subsidiary AirAsiaX also has 66 Airbus A330neo on order with the European aircraft manufacturer and the airline is expected to expand this number to 100.

But industry sources now claim that the some of these orders will be converted to the long-range versions of the A321neo.

If launched, the A321XLR is expected to make its commercial debut in late 2023. Airbus needs at least 200 orders to launch the program, sources say.

Christian Scherer, the head of commercial aircraft sales at Airbus, predicts more demand for the longer-range variants of the A321neo.

Boeing plans to compete with Airbus with a new aircraft program from scratch, which will fill the gap in the middle of market (MoM). With the new mid-size aircraf program (NMA), the American aircraft manufacturer aims to fill the gap on longer routes with a smaller wide-body jet, which will also replace aging 757s and 767s.