Picks Airbus And Selects 36 A321neo With Options For 24 More. Picks Airbus And Selects 36 A321neo With Options For 24 More.

September 2, 2021 Off By Reem

Leisure airline is ordering 36 new A321neo aircraft from Airbus. The UK-based carrier which specializes in low cost holiday leisure travel announced on august 31st. This is the carrier’s very first order with aircraft manufacturer Airbus. This dramatic shift follows the carrier having experienced high level of satisfaction while operating up to 4 Airbus A321-200 it had taken on leases in 2019.

The agreement signed with Airbus covers a firm order for 36 aircraft valued at approximately $4.9billion. However options for another 24 aircraft may put the total cost of the transaction at $8.1billion before heavy discounts are to be applied. Delivery dates for the 36 aircraft configured in 232 all economy seats are set to occur between 2023 and 2028.

The carrier had, since its founding, centered its operations on the Boeing 737.  Currently, up to 74 airframes are retained for operations, mainly 737-800s while some of the older 737-300s which had formed the fleet’s core up to very recently may be still operated.

The carrier began operations in 2002 as a Boeing 737-300 shop with two aircraft being delivered that year. By 2007 twenty such aircraft had joined in operations, all configured in all economy 148 seats. Alongside the 737s, appeared beginning in 2005 a dozen or so Boeing 757-200s again with all-economy seating for 235 passengers. The Boeing 737-800s that form the backbone of present-day fleet only began arriving in 2011 and are fitted with 189 economy seats.

This is the fleet that saw the airline evolve its market footprint from its main Leeds Bradford Airport headquarters out to the 12 bases it uses today. Two of which are located in Spain; Palma de Mallorca and Allicante.

Meanwhile the fleet that had made the carrier grow to become UK’s third largest behind Easyjet and British Airways has also began showing its age: only 34 of its Boeing 737-800 are aged five years or less while 38 other Boeing 737-800 are aged between 14 and 24 years old. With the end of the Covid19 lock down, the return to pre-pandemic traffic level projected to take place gradually from 2023 could only be planned to co-incide with a new growth plan under more economical flight operations. Already by July of 2021, business looked promising. Riding on its ‘quarantine-free’ travel offering, the number of destination served grew back up to 40 with some 60 flights departing daily from Belfast International, Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds Bradford, London Stansted, Manchester, and Newcastle Airports to places like Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Majorca and Menorca), Canary Islands (Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura), Spain, (Malaga and Alicante), Portugal (Faro (Algarve) and Madeira) and Greece (Corfu, Zante, Kos, Rhodes, Crete (Heraklion) and Kefalonia).

Having raised significant amount of capital in 2021, the norm imposed upon carriers willing to survive the Covid19 crisis, had, by March, £150.0m in liquidity thanks to new unsecured term loan maturing in September 2023. Debt issuance of senior unsecured Convertible Bonds due in 2026 brought in another £387.4m. This alone provided with £1,460m in cash at hand on a total cash balance of £1,908m.

For Airbus, grabbing a significant order away from a traditionally Boeing customer is a major commercial feat of arms. While the Airbus A320neo and the Boeing 737MAX aircraft families offer similar advantages in operating economics, fuel savings, environment friendliness (lower carbon and nitrogen-oxide emission) and passenger cabin comfort, the 737MAX reputation has greatly suffered from two fatal crashes and an extended period being grounded pending a manufacturer’s fix. While publicly released information regarding the latest order did not specify the type of engine that will power the A321neo, Airbus offering a choice between General Electric LEAP-1 engines and Pratt & Whitney 1100 Geared turbofan may prove more appealing than Boeing’s offering solely the General Electric LEAP-1engines for the 737MAX.
For, acquiring the A321neo probably represents the capacity it found was needed when operating the 235-seats Boeing 757-200 and then the 220-seats Airbus A321-200. Both aircraft have similar seating capacity between 220-235, well above the 189 seats aboard the mainline 737-800. With enthusiasm generated around the A321-200, the evolutive path offered by the A321neo was only naturally adopted.