The A321 is selling in huge numbers, seen largely as the only viable replacement for the ageing 757-200.
Boeing is dragging its feet on a 757 replacement- some allege because airlines have so many different requirements finding one they all want – and will make an order for to get it going – has been almost impossible to pin down. With Farnborough just a few days away the expected announcement of the 797X has been put off to ‘early 2019’.
Airbus however knows one thing – the 797X will have more range so the A321LR will look less attractive. The answer – add another 500 miles. The company is said to be evaluating the A321XLR, with more powerful engines, efficiency tweaks, aerodynamic modifications and materials upgrades that will make it lighter.
The advantage for Airbus is that as soon as it knows what the 797X is intended to do, they can quickly adapt the A321 and deliver it before the Boeing even gets to a test flight.