Toulouse - Airbus plans to introduce a light version of the A330neo which would make the aircraft better-fitted to the regional routes.

Due to fierce price competition on mid-range aircraft market, Airbus examines not only an enhanced version of the A321LR but also a "light" version of the A330neo.

The model would be intended for carriers that operate the A330neo mainly on short-haul and medium-haul routes, as it is often the case in Asia-Pacific region.

No major adjustments are required to introduce such a variant, according to the European manufacturer. The A330neo’s engines could be re-rated to a lower level of thrust, and the MTOW to be reduced to 200 tons from its current capacity of 240 tons.

With the new A330neo and the A321neo variants such as A321LR and A321XLR, Airbus targets to fill the gap between the aircraft types aimed for short-haul and long-haul routes.

This is exactly what Boeing also plans with the NMA (New Midsize Airplane) program dubbed Boeing 797. The American manufacturer is expected to launch its new NMA program next year at the Paris Air Show. The first 225-seater variant of the new model, the 797-6X, is expected to enter into service in 2025 with a flight range of 5000 nautical miles.

Plans to improve the capabilities of the A321neo with an XLR (Extra Long Range) variant gains attraction from customers around the world and will be detailed next year.

A possible A321XLR, which would come with a maximum takeoff weight of 100 tons and a further 700 nautical miles bumps exactly between the benchmarks of the Boeing 797.