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Why IndiGo Could Win With Its Mega A321XLR Order

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IndiGo made a huge splash last October when it placed an order for 300 A320neo family aircraft. The order also contains the new A321XLR, the longest range narrowbody aircraft ever proposed. Here’s why IndiGo could win with its upcoming A321XLR fleet.

IndiGo A321XLR
IndiGo has purchased an undisclosed number of A321XLRs from Airbus. Photo: Airbus

What is the A321XLR?

The newest version of the A321neo, the A321XLR, offers a vast 4,700 nautical miles of range, far surpassing any current narrowbodies. For comparison, the longest-range Boeing 737 MAX, the MAX 7, offers a range of 3,850nm (but only seats up to 150), while the A321LR has a range of 4,000nm (seats 206 passengers).

Airbus A321LR
The XLR improves upon the range of the A321LR (pictured) and far exceeds Boeing’s offerings. Photo: Airbus

The A321XLR’s range gives airlines the opportunity to start new routes that weren’t possible with widebodies. The plane also allows low-cost airlines to go to long-haul destinations, a market they have traditionally struggled in. IndiGo is one such airline looking to leverage the range of the A321XLR to expand its market.

The plan

As we mentioned, IndiGo placed an order for 300 A320neo family aircraft last year, divided into 87 A320neos and 213 A321neos. However, IndiGo and Airbus have been tight-lipped about how many of the A321s will be of the A321XLR variant. Regardless of the exact number, we can expect IndiGo to use the new plane on a variety of international routes.

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IndiGo A321XLR range map
IndiGo has access to destinations from Western Europe to the East Coast of Australia with the A321XLR. Photo: GCMap

The range of the A321XLR means that long-haul routes in Europe, Asia, and Africa are suddenly a possibility from IndiGo’s Delhi hub. This includes the likes of London, Paris, Tokyo, Addis Ababa, and even Darwin! While IndiGo hasn’t announced any potential routes, it’s long-haul ambitions are well documented.

IndiGo A321XLR
Popular routes to Paris, London, Tokyo, and more are suddenly on the table for IndiGo. Photo: GCMap

IndiGo has previously considered widebody aircraft to fly routes to long-haul cities such as London only to decide against them. However, the A321XLR is far more efficient than any widebody, making such destinations much more economically feasible.

Why IndiGo could win

Despite being a rapidly growing market, India has suffered from a shortage of international airlines to meet the demand. While IndiGo does hold a substantial part of the medium-haul market, there are still no low-cost alternatives on longer flights. The addition of the A321XLR will allow IndiGo to enter, and possibly capture, a whole new market.

GoAir and IndiGo A320neo grounding
IndiGo is India’s largest airline by fleet size and market share. Photo: Airbus

While this year’s crisis could impact future growth, IndiGo’s CEO predicts a strong recovery, particularly for international flights. The first A321XLR isn’t expected to take to the skies until at least 2023, with many hurdles to clear before that. However, when it does fly, the plane could reshape the industry as we know in.

What do you think IndiGo will do with its A321XLRs? Would you fly long-haul on a narrowbody plane? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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