This morning, the first Airbus A321LR to operate in the Australia and Pacific region rolled into Jetstar’s Hangar 41 at Melbourne Airport, precisely on time at 09:30. Resplendent in its new Jetstar livery, the airplane had stopovers in Mumbai and Perth on its flight from Germany’s Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport.
The A321LR drew a big crowd to hangar 41
Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans and Airbus’ Head of Sales Pacific Marie-Frédérique Romain greeted the new Airbus A321LR. Photo: Michael Doran I Simple Flying
On hand to greet it were Jetstar CEO Gareth Evans, Airbus Head of Sales Pacific Marie-Frédérique Romain, Simple Flying and a crowd of very enthusiastic Jetstar staff with their families. After the aircraft was towed into the hangar and secured, the two senior Jetstar captains, David McCutcheon and Greg Eastaway emerged to a pop-star welcome. The long-range Airbus A321neo only needed two stopovers between Hamburg and Melbourne, the first in Mumbai (BOM), India and the second in Perth on the west coast of Australia.
When Jetstar placed the A321neo order in 2011, no one had heard of a coronavirus pandemic or expected aviation would be grounded. Speaking to Simple Flying, Evans said the decision made over a decade ago has turned out to be “absolutely the right decision.”
“It was a long time ago and it was absolutely the right decision, and if we had known then what we know now today we wouldn’t have changed a thing, these are the right aircraft for us, arriving for us at absolutely the right I think the important thing is the relationship we have with Airbus, the flexibility they have shown us as we try to manage our whole business, as Airbus has had to manage their whole business, through this roller-coaster of things over that period. of time, but particularly the last two to three years as we’ve gone through COVID.”
The Jetstar Airbus A321LR is the first of 18 to be delivered, with 20 A321XLRs to follow. Photo: Michael Doran I Simple Flying
The range of the Airbus A321LR puts east coast cities like Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane within reach of popular Asian destinations, including Bali, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Tokyo. It can reach as far afield from Perth as Shanghai, Hanoi, Colombo, the Maldives and the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius. The aircraft will enter service in a few weeks between Melbourne Airport (MEL) and Cairns Airport (CNS), the gateway to the tropical mecca of the Great Barrier Reef. Evans said the A321neo’s arrival is a symbol “of the re-emergence of the airline as it comes out of COVID.”
“This is the first in a pipeline of NEO aircraft for the Qantas Group; we will be taking 18 of the long-range [LR] aircraft over the next two years and a further 20 of the extra long range [XLR], providing even longer range narrowbody flying. The aircraft will also lift the bar for us in terms of comfort for our customers, flying long distances, enabling us to fly to destinations that our existing A320 fleet can’t, and importantly will deliver a much more fuel-efficient way to fly. All of which will help make travel more affordable in Australia.”
Sustainability has not been forgotten with the LEAP engines and new paint system
The CFM LEAP-1A engines and the new paint system drive the sustainability credentials of the Jetstar A321LR. Photo: Michael Doran I Simple Flying
On sustainability, the new paint system, lightweight galley carts and freight containers reduce the weight of the Jetstar A321LR by more than 170 kilograms on each flight. Evans said this “translates to a saving of 1.2 million kilograms of fuel annually, a reduction of more than 4,000 tonnes of emissions, the equivalent of removing 1500 cars from roads annually.” The CFM LEAP 1A engines on the A321LR also add to emissions reduction, using 15% less fuel and being 50% quieter than the current A320ceo fleet.
The cabin will be a whole new experience for low-airfare passengers. In a first for low-fare carriers in Australia, Jetstar will introduce digital streaming later this year so customers can access the inflight entertainment on their own devices. Evans said:
“We’ve fine-tuned the cabin to create the best inflight experience for low fares travel, the aircraft has the widest cabin for a single-aisle aircraft, and we’ve used that space innovatively with wider seats, extra large overhead bins and in-seat USB chargers for personal devices.”
The A321LRs bring flexibility and capacity to Jetstar
The Jetstar A321LR got a warmer reception inside the hangar than the cold dreary Melbourne day. Photo: Michael Doran I Simple Flying
The A321LRs are destined primarily for domestic routes, where the extra capacity will be used to meet higher demand. Longer term Evans sees a future where they will support the current Boeing B787 international fleet in a mix of domestic and international flying. The next eight A321LRs will arrive between August 2022 and May 2023, with all 18 delivered by mid-2024. The A321XLRs will be delivered between 2024 and 2029.
The freshness and smell of a new airplane are a little surreal, so if you have been on one, please tell us about your experience.