The A321neo is the most desired jetliner today, there is no doubt about it. It is enough to know that until August the aircraft had 5,400 firm orders or 637 more units than the classic A320ceo.
Carriers like United Airlines can’t wait to rely on the model, which currently offers the largest passenger capacity for a narrow-body jet.
The US airline is already selling flights on which the A321neo will be used, starting from Chicago at the end of 2023. Destinations such as Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Las Vegas are expected to be offered with the Airbus aircraft from December 14th.
United’s first A321neos are almost ready for delivery. On September 21, the future jet with registration N44501 took off for the first time, still with provisional registration D-AXXH.
Other aircraft of the type are in different stages of production at the Hamburg plant, in Germany.
United Airlines has 70 A321neo on order, an improved variant of the original A321 that offers greater fuel economy and lower emissions.
At the airline, the A321neo is expected to be configured with 200 seats, 20 in business class and the rest in economy, including some seats with greater legroom.
It is worth remembering that the A321 is still a new aircraft in United’s fleet, which has a good number of first-generation A319 and A320 jets.
Farewell to Airbus ex-Virgin America
If the Airbus plane is new for United, on another airline in the country, the situation is the opposite: Alaska Airlines has just ended flights with the A321neo.
The last two jets, with registration numbers N921VA and N922VA, performed their last flights for the carrier on September 30th. The first concluded its journey in Los Angeles and the second in Oakland.
They will join eight other planes of the model that have already been decommissioned.
— Tobi (@Tobias_Gudat) September 28, 2023
But what explains Alaska’s decision to abandon such a desired aircraft? The reason is justified as Airbus jets were never in the carrier’s plans.
They came as part of the Virgin America purchase package in 2018, and Alaska had no choice but to use them. With the restructuring of its fleet, however, the company removed all Airbus planes, including 10 A319s and 52 A320s.
Alaska Airlines now has a fleet of just Boeing planes, not counting the 83 Embraer jets, used on regional routes in partnership with Horizon Air.
Standardization is an attractive alternative for airlines looking to reduce their operating costs, such as rival Southwest.
But Alaska knows the value of recently retired assets. Leased, these planes will soon be acquired and resold on the market, the airline revealed in its second quarter financial results.