JetBlue’s Airbus A321LR takes to the skies for the first time
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JetBlue’s London flights are one step closer to taking off.
On Tuesday, the carrier’s first Airbus A321LR took to the skies for its maiden flight. With test registration D-AVXF, the long-range Airbus narrow-body was airborne for about two-and-a-half hours before returning to the manufacturer’s facility in Hamburg, Germany.
This initial test flight is the first in what’s likely a series before the plane ultimately gets delivered to the New York-based carrier. This specific A321LR is slated for delivery at some point in early 2021.
The Airbus A321LR is a longer-range variant of the carrier’s newest A321neo. With a range of about 4,700 miles, the LR-version can comfortably fly fully loaded between the U.S. Northeast and Western Europe. It will allow JetBlue to expand to London — a mission that’s been on the carrier’s long-term plan for years.
While we already learned what the plane would look like on the outside, we still don’t yet know the cabin configuration.
In September, JetBlue unveiled a new tail fin design dubbed “streamers” to celebrate its launch of transatlantic travel.
According to the carrier, the waving ribbon motif was chosen to celebrate the big milestone. As for the shades of blue, JetBlue explained that they’re a nod to ocean waves and the jet stream. The airline plans to adorn streamers on all the tails of its 13 A321LRs that it has on order.
To coincide with its first transatlantic flight, JetBlue is planning to launch a new Mint business-class product. The carrier hasn’t released any clues yet as to the new seat, but we’re hopeful that each pod will feature direct aisle access.
As for the amenities and culinary offerings, JetBlue just launched brand-new offerings with updated Tuft & Needle bedding, refined restaurant-inspired dining, noise-canceling headsets and amenity kits. It remains to be seen if these offerings will be deployed on the London routes.
Mint has already revolutionized the premium transcontinental market — both in terms of pricing and product. So it seems poised to do the same to the New York- (JFK) and Boston-(BOS)-to-London market when flights start in late 2021.
The carrier hasn’t finalized which London-area airport(s) it will fly to. Of course, many business travelers prefer Heathrow, but it’s historically been hard for airlines to start new service to this slot-controlled airport — unless they’re willing to buy the rights from another airline for tens of millions of dollars.
JetBlue has hinted that the likelihood of Heathrow flying has increased due to the pandemic. With long-haul flying at record lows, some airlines might forfeit their slots, or sell them at a discount to newcomers like JetBlue.
JetBlue plans to take delivery of three total A321LRs in 2021, and three more in 2022, under a revised delivery schedule unveiled in late October.
To unlock even more range, the airline has already ordered the A321XLR, with deliveries slated to begin in 2023. This plane will allow JetBlue to fly to even more European destinations when it enters the fleet.
Featured photo by Markus Mainka/Shutterstock
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