It’s almost been a full year since Vietnamese carrier VietJet announced that it would be adding the A321XLR to its fleet. The budget airline took a firm order for 15 aircraft while also converting five A321neo aircraft from its existing backlog. A lot can change in the span of a year, so what do we know about this airline’s order so far?
VietJet joins many other airlines, both legacy and low-cost, in placing orders for the Airbus A321XLR aircraft. Photo: Airbus
“Vietjet has always been a pioneer in operating new, modern, advanced and fuel-efficient aircraft. We are proud of operating one of the world’s youngest Airbus fleets with an average age of only 2.7 years and this has contributed greatly to Vietjet’s success over the past years. Following the signing of this contract, the new A321XLR will be the perfect upgrade to Vietjet’s fleet as we look to grow our international flight network.” -Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, Vietjet President & CEO
The timeline – has anything been delayed?
Both Airbus and VietJet press releases covering this order have stated that VietJet will be “one of the first carriers in the world” to operate Airbus’ newest “extra-long-range” version. VietJet says that the first of the aircraft will be delivered in 2023, although the month was not specified.
“Vietjet is one of the fastest growing carriers in the Asian region and we feel proud to have the A321XLR joining its fleet…This order is another strong endorsement of our decision to bring true long range capability to the singe-aisle market with the A321XLR, enabling airlines to extend their networks at the lowest possible cost,” -Guillaume Faury, CEO of Airbus
The A321XLR has an impressive 4,700nm range. Image: Airbus
While the airline announced in April that it could secure deferrals of loan payments from most of its lenders, this hasn’t translated into delivery deferrals or delays for its A321XLR order.
“Up to now, VietJet has reached agreements to extend three…to 12 months’ payment time of 75% to 80% of aircraft agreements with international aircraft financial institutions, credits from HSBC, Citibank…and big domestic banks,” the carrier said in an e-mailed statement.
Therefore, with a delivery window still over two years away, this order seems to be unscathed by recent catastrophic global events.
Where the A321XLR will fly with VietJet
No specific routes have been confirmed or even mentioned by the airline. This makes perfect sense with a 2023 delivery window. However, the airline has said that the model will “serve VietJet’s fleet modernization and international flight network expansion plans in the near future.” The keyword in that sentence being international.
Vietjets international route map. Source: VietJet
While the airline has a robust domestic network, Vietnam isn’t a vast country needing the full 8,700km range of the A321XLR. It would seem a waste to place an aircraft designed for long-distance flight on a domestic route. After all, this feature is built right into the name of this aircraft variant.
Airbus’ press release did give us a hint at possibilities, saying that “the addition of the aircraft to its fleet will allow VietJet to further expand its network, flying longer routes across Asia, as well as to destinations as far afield as Australia and Russia.”
While this was likely just marketing language to demonstrate the extensive reach of the A321XLR from Vietnamese cities, it’s certainly within the realm of the possibility.
A graphic demonstrating the reach of the A321XLR from VietJet’s Hanoi hub. Photo: GCMap.com
Indeed, the graphic above shows the incredible amount of destinations the A321XLR could allow for VietJet in the future. Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and even Australia are all made accessible with the XLR. We’ll just have to wait and see what the airline decides to do with the jet.
Seating and cabin layout
In terms of seating and cabin layout, all of the airline’s aircraft to date have been a single class configuration. Something we’ve often wondered with budget airlines and the A321XLR is if this pattern will continue given the much longer flight times the XLR could fly.
It would be a long trip to Australia from Vietnam in a tight cabin on a narrowbody aircraft. Photo: VietJet via Facebook.
Unfortunately, for now, we are looking at a single class, all-economy configuration. It would be nice for the carrier to offer something more, but we aren’t expecting much.
Where do you think the A321XLR will fly with VietJet airlines? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.