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Azores’ first A321LR lifts off from the Airbus factory. (Photo: Airbus)

Azores Airlines Sets New A321LR Flight Record

2021 has started with some new restrictions to travel but also with some very good news. On Jan. 3, a new record was set by the new generation of Airbus A321 Long-Range, or A321LR, aircraft. ] Portuguese carrier Azores Airlines managed to complete a 9 hour, 49 minutes flight between Lisbon Humberto Delgado Airport in Portugal, and Bogotá El Dorado International Airport in Colombia. That means it is the longest flight duration operated by the new A321LR in commercial operation. The return flight from Bogotá to Lisbon took 9 hours and 20 minutes, being the second-longest duration flight performed by an Airbus A321LR.

Last Friday, the airline confirmed the record with a Twitter message that said: “SATA Azores Airlines is happy to confirm that it has performed the longest flight duration ever recorded in the Airbus A321LR Neo fleet! A 09H49M direct flight between Lisbon and Bogotá. This achievement proved how versatile and efficient can be the airline’s new aircraft.” Azores Airlines operates a fleet of 7 aircraft, out of which two are Airbus A321LR. The airline mainly connects the Atlantic islands for which it is named with Portugal.

The flight, flown by an aircraft registered CS-TSI, departed from Lisbon at 08:28 on Jan 3rd and arrived at Bogota at 13:00 after the 9:49 hours transatlantic flight. While the airline has not yet confirmed the purpose of the operation, it is believed that it was a Charter flight as it is not offered by the airline in any ticket platform. Normally, this aircraft connects the Azores islands, via Ponta Delgada Papa Joao Paulo II Airport, and Cape Verde, via Nelson Mandela Praia Airport, with Portugal’s Porto Francisco Sá Carneiro Airport and Lisbon’s Humberto Delgado Airport. Regarding transatlantic operations, the only route that Azores Airlines usually connects Ponta Delgada and Bermuda L.F. Wade airport.

The previous record for the longest duration flight of an Airbus A321LR was a commercial operation was performed by Air Transat in October 2020. Back then, the Canadian carrier connected Montréal Pierre Elliot Trudeau Airport, in Canada, with Greece’s Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport in 8 hours and 20 minutes, flying a distance of 7,651km.

The truth is that none of these flights are the truly longest Airbus A321LR operations. The longest A321LR flight duration was performed in April 2018 from the Seychelles International Airport to Toulouse Blagnac airport in France, Airbus’ European base. It was a test flight during the development and commercial campaign of the manufacturer, though, so it cannot count as a commercial operation.

With this new generation of aircraft capable of performing transatlantic flights with lower turn around times, we may be seen in the future many airlines preferring them over bigger widebody aircraft with higher rotation times. Carriers as TAP Portugal and SAS have begun to use such smaller planes, so in the close future we will see this aircraft crossing the Atlantic more frequently.

Arturo Higueras
Arturo Higueras
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