Unexpected launch customer first to fly the A321LR

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November 16, 2018
Airkia A321LR launch customer
The Arkia A321LR takes off. Photo: Airbus.

More famous for jeans than jets, denim giant Jordache Enterprises has effectively become the launch customer for Airbus A321LR through majority-owned  Tel Aviv-based airline Arkia Israeli Airlines.

The new aircraft was handed over to Arkia at Airbus’ Hamburg plant on November 14 after the Israeli carrier became the unexpected launch customer for the plane It replaced Primera Air after the budget carrier went bankrupt in October.

Thousands were stranded after the collapse of Primera which partly blamed delays of the A321neo for its demise.

Read: Thousands stranded after Primera collapses.

Arkia which was founded in 1950 to establish an air link between the southern port of Eilat and the northern part of Israel.

Today, Arkia flies more than 1.6 million passengers annually and operates domestic flights to Eilat from Sde Dov, Ben Gurion and Haifa airports.

It also operates regular flights and charters to many European and Mediterranean destinations including Amsterdam, Rome, Munich, Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Crete, Cyprus and Antalya and regular flights to Paris, Barcelona, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Georgia, Dublin, Armenia and other destinations.

According to its website, Arkia flies Boeing 757 as well as Embraer E-195 and E-190 aircraft in addition to its A321LR.

Airbus provided little information on Arkia’s plans other than to say its launch customer’s A321LR would be powered by CFM International’s LEAP 1-A engines and configured with 220 seats.

The A321LR is a new engine option (neo) derivative of the popular A321 Family and allows operators the flexibility to fly long-range operations of up to 4,000nm (7,400km).

This opens up new long-haul markets not previously accessible to single-aisle aircraft, allowing airlines to service thinner routes without having to fill a big number of seats on a widebody aircraft.

AirAsia X is currently evaluating the aircraft and has said it may consider converting some of its order for A330neo widebody jets to the smaller plane.

The airline is currently evaluating the aircraft in terms of future routes but a spokeswoman said the study was still in its infancy and there was no announcement at this time.