Seoul, Korea - Airbus intensifies its marketing efforts for its upcoming longer-range single-aisle A321XLR. After Malaysian low-cost AirAsia, the manufacturer is also in talks with the US carrier JetBlue Airways.
JetBlue prepares to make a strong entrance to the narrow-body transatlantic market with a new long-range variant of the A321neo. JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes said its company is discussing A321XLR with Airbus.
JetBlue Airways has already 85 A321neo aircraft on order, including 13 long-range variant A321LR. The airline plans to operate its A321LRs on routes from New York and Boston to London in 2021.
But the range of the A321LRs is not enough to fly to the other European cities such as Brussels or Amsterdam from New York or Boston. The airline is now evaluating Airbus's new aircraft program A321XLR to add new destinations to its network in Europe.
JetBlue may convert some of its orders to the longer-range A321XLR instead of placing a complete new order.
"London is the biggest opportunity because it has the highest fares, but there would be other opportunities if we had an airplane that had more range. The XLR gives us more range," Hayes said on the sidelines of the IATA's global airlines meeting in Seoul.
"We're still working through how many aircraft it would be (but) any XLRs would be linked to the planes we have on order today, no decision has yet been taken," Hayes added.
JetBlue is planning to offer a business class product to its customers on the highly competitive premium transatlantic routes. A business class seat costs as much as $12,000 on a wide-body aircraft with major US carriers such as Delta and Americans on these routes. Hayes promises the half.
"The transatlantic market is very seasonal. In the summer you tend to do very well but in the winter you're flying a bunch of empty seats, so the LR helps us manage significantly the risk of the winter because we're not flying such an expensive airplane," JetBlue Chief Executive said.