Aer Lingus operates just 4 A321neo’s, yet they have proven to be transformative. The Covid pandemic and the devastation its spread throughout the aviation industry, has highlighted that the strength of the largest single aisle aircraft available with the best in modern economic engines.
Aer Lingus has been able to operate a couple of “mid-long” haul flights from Dublin to Toronto and New York (Newark), and is now scheduling them from October. It’s able to do so because the A321neo costs 50% less than running an A330 on the same route. The aircraft has become so successful for the airline it plans on operating them to Washington DC (Dulles), and Boston (Logan) as well
More to the point it can fill an A321neo and run it at a profit, rather than barely two-thirds filling an A330 and operating at a loss.
The mathematics are actually quite complicated. Lower capacity aircraft result in higher unit costs per passenger as there are fewer over which to spread costs, and therefore higher break even fares.
Typically a fare from Dublin to Newark breaks even on an A330 at €173.75 while on an A320neo it costs €199.53, both based on 85% occupancy.
However, the A330-300 costs 50% more to operate on fixed and variable costs. The A320neo carries less cargo – a not unimportant factor these days, as airlines are making a great deal of extra income from it. But the advantage of using the A320neos is longer term and more structurally efficient in the long term.
What does that mean? Keeping seat number to 184 per flight, means that the need to discount to fill aircraft will be far less necessary, even non-existent, even during the winter months. Profitability on full aircraft when seats are in demand all of the time, that’s the Holy Grail
And this is why everybody wants not just the A321neo but the LR and XLR. It’s the reason that Airbus are sustaining A321 production and it’s the reason they’re not slowing down the development of the LR and XLR.
Not one airline has asked to delay its A321LR or XLR orders. The XLR is especially in demand, airlines know that when the recovery comes, it’s this aircraft that is going to transform mid-haul routes across the Atlantic, in the Far East and from Europe to the Middle East.
With the prospect of profitable seats, ranges and passenger volumes that make them viable, the A321LR and XLR are going to transform the mid to late 2020’s and the decade to come.