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Editorial comment - July 2018

 

Just a few years ago the thought of long haul travel on 737s and the A320 family of jets was pretty much obscure but widely anticipated with the pending arrival of associated technologies and efficiencies.

 

This long haul capability is opening a whole new possibility for LCCs. Even though this model isn’t new, the development associated with far more efficient types like the MAX and neo are changing the game completely.

 

The A321neo is particularly interesting. Primera Air took delivery of its first A321neo in April, the first of three the airline will lease from GECAS in 2018 in addition to another five from other lessors. The efficiency, range capabilities and passenger capacity were clearly driving factors that led Primera to select the type for deployment in the United Kingdom and France on transatlantic destinations to North America. It is ideally suited to transatlantic routes and enables airlines to tap into new long-haul markets that were not previously accessible with current single-aisle aircraft.

 

Looking at orders from the big OEMs it’s clear the single-aisle aircraft have commanded the largest share of new deliveries, lately. These new aircraft will continue to stimulate growth for LCCs and will provide required replacements for older, less efficient types.

 

The innovative deployment of the single-aisle jets on the lucrative transatlantic market is a real shake up of the industry which has left the handful of US and European legacy airlines scrambling to re-evaluate their options – perhaps key to IAG’s sudden interest in courting Norwegian (see Breaking ground, page 50).

Norwegian has brought about cheaper transatlantic travel with its new MAX 8s but the real good news for budget conscious travellers is that the trend appears ready to further expand in 2018 and beyond.

 

Primera Air will begin direct flights five times a week from London-Stansted to Washington Dulles airport this August. This should provide some opportunity for both Primera Air and Stansted Airport, as both companies have expressed a clear ambition to provide more services to the USA and add routes to China and India, so this is another step towards that goal.

 

LCCs venturing out to tap into the long haul market will still need to have a clear strategy as it can still be a high risk move, but with the new breed of narrowbodies entering service there are possibilities, at least.

 


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