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Icelandair Set to Phase Out 757 Fleet with A321XLR Order
This past Thursday, Icelandic carrier Icelandair announced a firm order of 13 new Airbus A321XLRs and the leasing of four additional A321LRs. This order has the carrier expanding its fleet from predominantly Boeing to include Airbus, as soon as 2025.
The Keflavik, Iceland-based carrier will build on its 39-strong fleet with this order in the coming years. The airline placed a firm order for 13 A321XLRs which Airbus will deliver in 2029. In addition to the firm order, Icelandair also announced the company will be leasing four additional A321LRs to be delivered to the carrier by the summer of 2025, according to a statement released by Airbus.
Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Icelandair is enthusiastic about the order and the future of the company’s fleet stating “we are very pleased to announce that we have now finalized the purchase agreement with Airbus. The efficient A321XLR aircraft will further strengthen our business model, increase our flexibility and provide opportunities for future growth, as well as further support our sustainability efforts.”
A Quest for Range
While this announcement confirms the firm order of the A321s for the Keflavik-based carrier, Icelandair had announced previously Airbus aircraft would join the fleet in the future. AirlineGeeks interviewed Icelandair’s Communication Manager for North America, Michael Raucheisen, during the festivities for the airline’s inaugural flight from Detriot. In the interview, Raucheisen touched on the A321 becoming a part of the carrier’s fleet in the coming years. The carrier opted for the A321LR and XLRs for the range of 4,000nm and 4,700nm respectively. The Airbus aircraft will then be able to fly around 500nm and 1,200nm further than the 737 MAX.
The LR and XLR ranges are similar to what the Boeing 757 currently offers Icelandair, with the XLR having a slightly greater range. Thus, the A321 will be the 757 replacement for Icelandair. Raucheisen stated that the new Airbus jets will allow the carrier to “broaden [their] destinations.”
The Boeing 757
However, Raucheisen did state that the 757 will be dearly missed when the fleet is eventually retired. Raucheisen was asked what he would do with unlimited funds which included expansion across the globe but highlighted the importance of the 757 and what it has done for the carrier stating “[it] was our dreamchild, it was the perfect plane for our network and if they still made them we would still be buying them, and our friends over at Boeing know that.”The longest route the carrier currently offers is from their Keflavik hub to Portland, Ore. The flight covers 3,248nm according to gcmap.com and takes just over eight hours according to Icelandair’s schedule. The implementation of the A321LR and XLR into the carrier’s fleet will enable Icelandair to serve new destinations previously unattainable without a tech stop, such as Los Angeles or Dubai, both of which are a further distance than the carrier’s current Portland route.
While not having disclosed any new destinations, the future is bright for the Keflavik-based carrier, which will be bringing more of the world to and through Iceland.
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