By Robert Wall and Andrew Tangel
Airbus SE on Monday said it plans to develop its longest-range single-aisle plane yet, adding pressure on rival Boeing Co., which plans a jet for the same market but is distracted by its 737 MAX crisis.
Airbus /zigman2/quotes/200706109/composite EADSY +4.33% said the A321XLR, an upgrade to its popular A321neo narrow-body plane, is expected to enter service in 2023, several years before the putative Boeing /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA +5.01% midsize plane would be ready. The two planes are aimed at replacing Boeing’s out-of-production 757 and some slightly larger 767s.
Boeing’s tentative plans call for its jetliner to enter fleets around 2025, though analysts believe the crisis surrounding the grounding of the 737 MAX after two fatal crashes could delay the timing. Boeing has been discussing its concept with airlines, but hasn’t confirmed it will build the plane.
‘There will be hundreds of these airplanes.’
Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer, speaking of the A321XLR
Airbus’s A321XLR is being designed to fly 4,700 nautical miles and connect cities such as Barcelona and Chicago, where demand typically isn’t strong enough to warrant larger, wide-body planes traditionally used on flights between the U.S. and Europe.
Airbus made the announcement at the biennial Paris Air Show, which kicks off Monday and typically is a venue for airlines to place big aircraft orders. Airlines such as JetBlue Airways Corp. /zigman2/quotes/207639051/composite JBLU +10.20% , British Airways parent International Consolidated Airlines Group SA /zigman2/quotes/204976351/composite ICAGY +9.23% , and Jetstar, the budget arm of Qantas Airways Ltd. /zigman2/quotes/205534063/delayed AU:QAN +4.30% , have already signaled strong interest in the new plane even before Airbus gave it the green light.
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