JetBlue Goes Long Haul With A321XLR Order

Filed Under: JetBlue

JetBlue has just become the third US carrier, after Frontier and American, to order the A321LR, which was just launched at the Paris Air Show this week.

JetBlue’s A321XLR order

JetBlue’s acquisition of A321XLRs isn’t coming in the form of a new order. Rather JetBlue has converted 13 of their existing A321neo orders into A321XLR orders, with deliveries scheduled to begin in 2023.

With this order, JetBlue now has the A321neo, A321LR, and A321XLR on order:

  • JetBlue has 59 A321neos on order, with deliveries to begin this year
  • JetBlue has 13 A321LRs on order, with delivery to begin in 2021
  • JetBlue has 13 A321XLRs on order, with delivery to begin in 2023

JetBlue says that this A321XLR order will allow them to implement further expansion to additional European destinations from Boston to New York, while also providing added fuel efficiency.

The A321LR has a range of about 4,000 nautical miles, while the A321XLR has a range of about 4,700 nautical miles.

JetBlue’s CEO, Robin Hayes, said the following about the order:

“The incredible extended range of the A321XLR allows us to evaluate even more overseas destinations as we think about JetBlue’s expansion into European markets plagued by high premium fares and subpar service.”

JetBlue doesn’t need these A321XLRs to fly to Europe

Many of you may recall that earlier this year JetBlue announced their intentions to start flying to London as of 2021.

While details are still limited regarding exactly when flights will launch, the frequencies with which they’ll operate, and which London airport they’ll use, it seems like they intend to operate the flights from Boston and New York JFK.

Today’s order conversion has nothing to do with that announcement. The Boston and New York to London flights can be flown with JetBlue’s A321LRs, which they’ll take delivery of starting in 2021.

So it’s not that JetBlue needs the A321XLR to fly to London, even if they do maybe eventually use these planes for the routes.

What could JetBlue do with A321XLRs?

The A321XLR has a range of 4,700 nautical miles, so here’s the theoretical range for the plane from Boston:

And the theoretical range from New York:

In reality it won’t ever fly quite that long:

  • Planes never operate routes anywhere close to their absolute range, since they need fuel reserves
  • The range doesn’t factor in winds, and on transatlantic flights winds can be brutal going west depending on the season

But it does make you wonder what JetBlue could potentially be considering that isn’t practical with the A321LR. The A321LR should be able to fly year-round with a fully payload to London, Dublin, Amsterdam, Paris, etc.

So, what could JetBlue be thinking with the A321XLR? I’d say anything further East than London starts to get to the point where an A321XLR could come in handy, including to Rome, Frankfurt, Munich, etc.

I suppose we could eventually see JetBlue fly from Fort Lauderdale to London, or even from Fort Lauderdale to South America. However, as of now they’re saying these planes are intended for Boston and New York.

I doubt JetBlue has any concrete plans for flying “deep” into Europe as of now, though I think they ordered these planes because they given them the flexibility to add those routes.

Bottom line

It’s not too surprising to see JetBlue order the A321XLR. They’re actually one of the airlines that asked Airbus for a longer range version of the A321.

While the A321LR does the trick for JetBlue’s immediate plans for Northeast to London service, expansion beyond that could benefit from the flexibility offered by the A321LR.

My guess is that JetBlue doesn’t have anything specific in mind as of now. Rather I think they’ll launch London flights in 2021 and see how they go, and then they have a couple of years to figure out what to do with the A321XLR.

What do you make fo JetBlue’s A321XLR order, and where do you think they’ll fly them?

  1. I could see them eventually building on their South American route network from both FLL and JFK, trying to give American a run for their money.

  2. Is there any chance that this “incredible extended range” could be the result of sketchy modifications like the 737-max?

  3. Remember LHR will get a new runway within the next 5 years, its all a go.. so slots will not be an issue soon.

  4. Wouldn’t the XLR be the ideal plane to launch seasonal service from both NY and BOS to European leisure destinations?
    As an Italian, I’m thinking of Naples, Palermo, Olbia, Cagliari, Bari and Pisa.

  5. Why would they not convert all of their LR orders to XLR? Is it much more expensive, or other reasons?


    I had the same question when all the news of the orders broke the other day. Curious to see if anyone has any insight.

  7. @JJJJJJJJ and AdamR, no, the added range comes from auxiliary fuel tanks and maybe some paper modifications, which are fairly common in the world of incremental aviation improvements (777 -200 to 200ER to 200LR, for example)

    The Max trouble stems from them adding an engine that is too large for the frame, so they had to mount it forward and higher than usual, which messed with the frame’s center of gravity, leading to a higher propensity to stall. MCAS was the software developed to counter the stall tendencies, which obviously was faulty. Adding an engine in an unnatural position that radically changes a frame’s center of gravity is very, very different than adding aux tanks and a paper upgrade.

  8. Is there much of a price, weight or cargo capacity difference between the models? Seems odd if not as to why they don’t have them all as XLR’s rather than a sub fleet incase any go tech.

  9. @Peter

    A321LR is already in production. And far enough for LON/AMS/BRU/CDG/CPH/OSL/DUB to JFK/BOS.
    The XLR is a whole new product, and we are 4 years from the first delivery. Those who ordered the LR, need it faster.
    However I am concerned that around the time of XLR enters the market, they will discontinue the LR.

    Nope. The A321 can take this change. It doesn’t affect it’s center of gravity, like the engines of the 737MAX did. Also what happened to the 737, can never happen again. Historically updated variants of aircrafts had much less hassle with getting the FAA/EASA certificates, than brand new models. One thing for sure, is that this ends now.

  10. I wouldn’t be racing to be a customer, but hope that they base some out of FLL to give AA some competition in the Int’l market down here.

    And Marcello: That would be a smart move. AA is already attempting this on a smaller scale with the new service to BLQ from PHL. I also think the XLR could mean year-round service to FCO from JFK and maybe even CLT for AA. Once fall rolls around, they drop ORD, DFW, JFK, CLT and only service FCO from PHL (and it’s not even daily in the winter).

  11. AA has very high premium cabin fares (and yields!) to both EZE and SCL. Mint planes flying FLL-EZE and FLL-SCL could be a game changer.

  12. I prefer JetBlue and would hope that with this new XLR range, they open up to smaller markets & fly direct to Spain: SVQ, VLC, LCG, & BIO; GB (Britain): LGW, GLA; France: TLS, NCE, MPL. The current situation is that you must connect in order to get into any of the airports noted. It’d be nice to have a SFO/LGB-BOS/JFK-airports listed, just my preference.

    Oh the possibilities!!!

  13. I wonder if Delta is going to be on the losing end of all this. Delta always had this idea about hubs instead of direct connections to any secondary destination.

  14. Sadly this new range of flight will come after I finish my grand tour of South America… oh well. I guess back to taking the expensive AA J.

    Happy to see plenty of Western European destination possibilities. Would love to do deep dive of Western Europe without paying high surcharges on BA award tickets.

  15. B6 should try one stop service, such as JFK – Budapest – Chennai or BOS – ANC – FUK or JFK – Arica, Chile

  16. Might be quite a while before they get them as many airlines seem to be dumping Boeing and ordering A321XLR. American, Frontier, China airlines and Qantas have all placed major orders this week along with many European airlines. Clearly airline community has little faith in Boeing

  17. A321XLR uses an auxilary tank in area used for feight/baggage on regular A321s. Consequently there is an effect on airlines bottom line with loss of freight capacity

  18. @arkair

    These orders have very little to do with Boeing’s current issues. Even if the MAX was flawlessly flying around right now, all of these orders for the XLR would still be coming in. Boeing doesn’t currently offer anything even remotely close in terms of the capabilities of the 321LR and XLR.

  19. @Peter, adding to @e30st, I imagine the A321LR will also have a higher capacity than the XLR? Or am I wrong? This would obviously provide flexibility in terms of more “high-value” destinations, vs. “high-capacity/leisure” routes.

    On another note, I saw the map with a focus on BOS and also thinking about the concern of narrow bodies on long-haul flights. It is a great concern to me, but having said that, I recently flew from BOS-PTY with Copa Airlines on their 737. It’s blocked around 6hrs if I remember. Fortunately, they have comfortable seating, and (at least the one I was in) had an excellent IFE along with decent food and great service. Therefore, the flight was ok. The main point is – airlines better equip this new baby with a comfortable cabin!

  20. Ach du lucky!
    Jetblue could use these planes to get into continental europe. Given that Lufthansa was part of their owner i have to wonder how much disprutive they are willing to go into the german market which so far has been out of touch for anyone other than the LH group.

    I’d love for Jetblue to come to Germany. But FRA has been welcoming LCCs so yea.

  21. @Jordan

    The chances of LHR getting a 3rd runway within 5 years are very close to zero. If it happens in the next decade I’d be surprised. The UK doesn’t do infrastructure very well or, more importantly, cost effectively.

  22. Sam

    NYC to FRA or AMS or LON already has an insane amount of competition and really low prices most of time time. Hard to imagine that Jetblue uses these planes to offer the seventh NYC/FRA or the 8th daily NYC/AMS of 30th NYC/LON. Why would they compete there? There´s nothing to win from all I can tell. BOS may be a bit better in that regard but at the same time the market isnt all that big as NYC.

    Flying to second grade cities direct would make sense with these.

  23. No matter the competition because JetBlue will get more clients/passengers with the Airbus Extra Long Range.
    Europeans & South Americans hate having to connect through Hubs.

  24. I wonder if Boeing regret closing down the B757 production line so prematurely (in my opinion). They readily had an airframe that could give the A321XL/XLR a run for its money but chose instead to muck around with the already dated 60s designed B737.

  25. This could be a game changer for South America. If they venture to Brazil, they can partner with Azul. Flying from JFK to GIG would be very interesting as Latam left the route and AA and Delta are seasonal.
    Fort Lauderdale could be also a cash cow. Close to Miami and Orlando is a top destination for brazilians and the XLR variant allows to fly to secondary cities in Brazil.
    I for sure prefer flying Jetblue to the USA than any of the big US 3.

  26. The A321XLR is a good plane for African carriers who want to fly long haul. They will easily fill it as compared to a wide body. Kenya Airways’ should consider this plane. This plane has the range to cover many routes between Africa and Europe and between Africa and Asia. West African cities (Lagos, Accra, Abidjan, Dakar) to Brazil’s major cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro are within its range.

    Dear @Lucky, please write an article about this plane (A321XLR) and how African carriers can benefit from it. That will be interesting.

  27. <>

    They already have these routes and have for years. I think you meant “NY to South America”.

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