Iberia Express has a fleet of 12 A321neo

Head of Iberia confirms world premiere of Airbus A321XLR on flights to US

Marco Sansavini, CEO of the Spanish carrier, revealed that Airbus’ ultra-long-range jet will fly from the end of the year to Washington or Boston

What were still rumors turned into certainty on Thursday when the CEO of Iberia confirmed that the Spanish airline will be the launch customer for the A321XLR, the narrow-body jet with the longest range in history.

The IAG Group, owner of Iberia, British Airways and other carriers, announced an order for 14 aircraft in 2019 and intended to transfer the first to Aer Lingus, from Ireland.

But salary discussions motivated IAG to replace the Irish airline with Iberia as the aircraft’s launch customer.

On Thursday, Marco Sansavini, the Spanish carrier’s new CEO, stated during the International Expansion Forum in Madrid that the first eight A321XLRs will debut with Iberia from the end of the year.

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Iberia A321XLR rendering (Airbus)

The destination will be a city in the United States, but it is not yet defined whether the route from Madrid will be to Washington or Boston.

Sansavini stated that the A321XLR “will allow us to transform the business model”, serving hitherto “inaccessible” destinations on the east coast of the United States and Canada.

“It has a combination of relative size and transport efficiency that allows it to reach some destinations that would not be accessible without this aircraft,” said the CEO of Iberia, according to local media.

Airbus assembly line (Airbus)

FAA continues to ask for explanations about the aircraft

Airbus is still in the final stretch of testing for type certification by EASA, Europe’s civil aviation agency. But its US counterpart, the FAA, remains coy about the fire safety of the extra central fuel tank located aft of the jet.

The US authority has requested explanations on how the manufacturer intends to allow safe evacuation in the event the tank is exposed to a fire.

The A321XLR will be capable of flying distances of up to 4,700 nautical miles (8,700 km) with 240 passengers on board. Such performance is sufficient to replace widebodies on several transoceanic routes.


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