Icelandair Signs Deal For 13 Airbus A321XLR Jets To Replace 757s

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Airbus A321XLR

Not counting the few Dash 8s that Icelandair operates, the predominantly Boeing operator finally bit the bullet, dipping its toes in the Airbus market.

The carrier has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 13 Airbus A321XLR jets, with 12 additional options, bringing the potential total to 25. Final pricing details have still not been agreed upon yet. The new long range narrow body jets are set to replace Icelandair’s fleet of 19 Boeing 757s. Unfortunately for them, their first delivery won’t take place until 2029 due to Airbus’ huge order book.

In the mean time, the company plans to initially take on four leased Airbus A321LRs from 2025, with plans to add more to the fleet as it slowly works towards phasing out the older 757s. This comes as yet another blow for Boeing which has yet to develop a suitable mid-market replacement for its successful but aging 757 product.

As it stands, the A321LR has a potential service service range of 4,000 nautical miles while the A321XLR can travel as far as 4,700nm with its additional fuel tanks. While the Boeing MAX 8 and MAX 9 can seat 160 and 178 passengers respectively in a standard configuration, the service range of 3,550nm simply does not bridge the gap for the soon to be outgoing 757s.

Icelandair’s President and CEO Bogi Nils Bogason said:

“We are happy to announce that we have now reached a conclusion regarding Icelandair’s future fleet. We have decided that the capable and fuel-efficient Airbus aircraft, A321XLR and A321LR, will become the successors of the Boeing 757 we are gradually retiring. The Boeing 757 has been the cornerstone of Icelandair’s operations since 1990. Its unique capabilities have underpinned the successful development of our extensive route network and competitive transatlantic hub by leveraging Iceland’s unique geographical location to connect North America and Europe via Iceland. The excellent Airbus aircraft will not only allow us to further develop our proven business model around transatlantic flights but also open opportunities for future growth by entering new and exciting markets.”

From the release, it appears that Icelandair will continue with a denser configuration, with an estimated 190 seats in its new jets, which means that recliner style seating may not be going away any time soon for would be travelers.

Icelandair currently operates:

  • 2 De Havilland Canada Dash 8-400s
  • 3 De Havilland Canada Dash 8-200s
  • 3 Boeing 767-300ERs
  • 17 Boeing 757-200s
  • 2 Boeing 757-300s
  • 12 Boeing 737 MAX 8 (soon to be 16)
  • 4 Boeing 737 MAX 9

[Featured Photo: Airbus]

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