In early 2019, Qatar Airways surprised the world and ordered some A321LR aircraft from Airbus. It was not a new order. Rather, Qatar Airways converted part of an existing order. That’s not unusual. Airlines frequently tinker with orders. What caught the eye was Qatar Airways’ interest in a smaller single-aisle plane. After all, Qatar is best known for its fleet of big planes that jet around the world.
Qatar Airways jumps onboard trend towards smaller planes with big capabilities
But, like airlines everywhere, Qatar Airways has recognized the trend towards smaller planes with big capabilities. In January 2019, the airline converted ten of its 50 Airbus A321neos on order to the Airbus A321LR.
“The A321LR will add a new level of flexibility to Qatar Airways’ operations. The aircraft will support the airline to better serve its existing network while equally accessing new long-haul markets with optimal performance and efficiency,” Airbus’ Chief Commercial Officer, Christian Scherer, said at the time.
It seemed Qatar Airways liked the A321LR’s range and per-seat operational costs. Its per-seat operational costs are 30% lower than those of its nearest competitor. A smaller cabin, lower operational costs, and a big range open up a raft of new destinations for Qatar Airways.
The aircraft has a range of 4,000 nmi (7,400 km) and Qatar Airways will use the A321LR to connect Doha to new growing markets where today demand is not sufficient for wide body aircraft or where current narrowbodies (A320/A321) are unable to reach.
Alternatively, the new aircraft will be adopted to provide additional frequencies on