For the primary time ever, Icelandair has positioned an plane order with Airbus. Whereas a memorandum of understanding for this order was signed again in April 2023, it has now been finalized, so we’ve got extra particulars about what we will anticipate.
Icelandair’s Airbus plane order
Icelandair has positioned a agency order for 13 Airbus A321XLRs, although the catch is that deliveries will solely begin in 2029, so this order continues to be fairly a methods off. Icelandair has plans so as to add Airbus plane to its fleet sooner, because the airline intends to lease 4 Airbus A321LRs, and begin flying them in 2025.
For context, the Airbus A320neo household is a competitor to Boeing’s 737 MAX product. The Airbus A321 is the biggest variant of that household of plane, and we’re seeing some spectacular incremental efficiency for brand new variants of the plane. The A321XLR has the vary to fly as much as 4,700 nautical miles (8,700km), whereas the A321LR has the vary to fly as much as 4,000 nautical miles (7,400km).
These plane won’t solely permit Icelandair to function all of its present route community, however may even permit the airline to enter new markets. Icelandair states that each one these plane can have round 190 seats. For context, beneath is a map displaying what’s inside 4,700 nautical miles of Iceland (after all an plane cannot fairly fly to that vary, given the necessity to account for winds, gasoline reserves, and so on.).
This is how Icelandair’s CEO, Bogi Nils Bogason, describes this order:
“We’re completely satisfied to announce that we’ve got now reached a conclusion relating to Icelandair’s future fleet. We now have determined that the succesful and fuel-efficient Airbus plane, A321XLR and A321LR, will turn out to be the successors of the Boeing 757 we’re step by step retiring. The Boeing 757 has been the cornerstone of Icelandair’s operations since 1990. Its distinctive capabilities have underpinned the profitable growth of our in depth route community and aggressive transatlantic hub by leveraging Iceland’s distinctive geographical location to attach North America and Europe by way of Iceland. The superb Airbus plane won’t solely permit us to additional develop our confirmed enterprise mannequin round transatlantic flights but in addition open alternatives for future progress by getting into new and thrilling markets.”
What this implies for Icelandair’s future fleet
For context on Icelandair’s fleet, the airline has 38 jets, which function its community to North America and Europe. This consists of:
- 16 Boeing 737 MAXs, together with 12 737 MAX 8s and 4 737 MAX 9s; there are 4 extra 737 MAX 8s on order
- 19 Boeing 757s, together with 17 757-200s and two 757-300s
- Three Boeing 767-300ERs
With the acquisition of Airbus plane, Icelandair plans to utterly change its Boeing 757 fleet. In some unspecified time in the future sooner or later we will anticipate that the airline will solely fly Boeing 737 MAXs and Airbus A321XLRs (admittedly it will solely be in 2030 and past).
My tackle Icelandair’s order with Airbus
Icelandair has had an all-Boeing jet fleet for many years, so it is fascinating to see the airline lastly inserting an plane order with Airbus. On the one hand, there would have been effectivity from finally having an all-Boeing 737 MAX fleet, however this additionally highlights how Boeing cannot compete with Airbus within the lengthy vary slender physique market.
For instance, Icelandair used to fly from Reykjavik (KEF) to San Francisco (SFO), which covers a distance of three,653 nautical miles. This was discontinued across the begin of the pandemic, and possibly hasn’t been operated on account of lack of plane capable of function this service. That is a route that is properly inside vary for the A321XLR (by a big margin), whereas it is not a mission the 737 MAX might function. The 737 MAX 8 has a spread of three,550 nautical miles.
For some airways, the vary distinction between variants of the 737 MAX and A321neo may not matter, whereas for Icelandair it makes an enormous distinction.
I had one different thought after I noticed this order. Icelandair has been very constant on the subject of its premium seating possibility, as Icelandair’s Saga Class (enterprise class) most carefully resembles home top quality inside the USA, and would not have flat beds.
Given the vary of the A321XLR, I am unable to assist however marvel if the airline would possibly lastly set up flat beds on these planes, as they’re going to function some longer routes. It positive can be good, although by way of Icelandair’s enterprise mannequin (low pricing and consistency), I believe it is unlikely. Icelandair additionally suggests these planes can have round 190 seats, which represents a fairly dense configuration that does not depart a lot room for flat beds.
With these planes solely being delivered in 2029, admittedly we might see a technique shift between from time to time.
Icelandair plans to accumulate Airbus jets for the primary time. The airline has positioned a agency order for 13 A321XLRs, on account of be delivered beginning in 2029. The airline additionally has plans to lease 4 A321LRs, which is able to be a part of the service’s fleet in 2025.
It is fairly fascinating to see Icelandair place a non-Boeing order for the primary time in many years. Nevertheless, the truth is that there is just one trendy slender physique jet that may function Icelandair’s complete route community, and it is not the 737 MAX.
What do you make of Icelandair’s Airbus plane order?