Iberia's 1st Airbus A321XLR Flight Is Now Open For Booking

By Ivan PetrenkoJun 17, 2024 23:00 PMNews
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white and blue airplane in the sky
white and blue airplane in the sky. Source: unsplash

Iberia, the Spain-based subsidiary and co-founder of the International Airlines Group (IAG), has launched the sale of its first Airbus A321XLR flights, set to take off in November. The inaugural flights will connect Madrid, Spain, with Boston, United States.

First Commercial A321XLR Flights

According to Iberia's website, the first A321XLR flight between Madrid Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (MAD) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) is scheduled for November 14, 2024. Gary O’Donnell, the head of the Airbus A321XLR program, confirmed the news on LinkedIn, expressing pride in seeing the product enter service.

The aviation analytics company Cirium has also indicated that starting in November, Iberia will deploy the Airbus A321XLR on the MAD-BOS route, alternating with an Airbus A330. Iberia's CEO, Marco Sansavini, previously announced that the airline would begin using the A321XLR for flights to Boston and Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) during the winter season.

Switching Launch Customers

Initially, Aer Lingus, another IAG-owned carrier, was supposed to be the launch customer for the A321XLR. However, pictures shared on social media showed the first A321XLR with an Aer Lingus tail and winglets but with Iberia’s livery on the engine cowlings. This aircraft, manufacturer serial number (MSN) 11348, is powered by two CFM International LEAP-1A engines.

The first A321XLR is expected to be delivered in September, with another scheduled for delivery in December. However, a contract dispute between Aer Lingus and its pilots led to IAG reallocating the A321XLR delivery slots within the group. The Irish Independent reported that Aer Lingus failed to meet certain "cost structure assurances," prompting the reassignment.

Certification Questions

Despite the excitement, the A321XLR has not yet been certified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Both agencies have concerns about the aircraft's unique design, specifically the integral rear center tank (RCT) that is integrated into the fuselage. Airbus entered the final certification and flight testing phase in late May and previously indicated that the first customer would receive the A321XLR in Q3 2024.

In Conclusion

The launch of Iberia's first Airbus A321XLR flights marks a significant milestone for the airline and the aviation industry. Despite the challenges and delays, the A321XLR is poised to offer enhanced range and efficiency, benefiting long-haul routes like Madrid to Boston.

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