Significant Airbus customer US Airways is taking a preliminary look at the Airbus A321neo, but is not convinced the aircraft is suitable for long-haul Boeing 757 replacement.
"We are in preliminary talks with Airbus about what the aircraft can and cannot do," US Airways chief executive Doug Parker told Flight International at the Boyd Group's International Aviation Forecast Summit in Albuquerque.
The problem, said Parker, is that US Airways is not certain the A321neo can fulfil the Phoenix-Hawaii missions currently operated by the carrier with its 757s.
US Airways previously said it had told Airbus of the necessity for the A321neo to achieve similar long-haul mission capabilities to the 757 that it operates to Hawaii and Europe.
Airbus data indicates that the A321neo, with 188 seats, will be capable of a range of 3,720nm (6,890km). The airframer has specifically aimed the A321neo at the replacement market for the 757-200, more than 900 of which were delivered.
American Airlines, which operates some of its 123 757s on transatlantic flights, has ordered 130 A321neos.
Parker appears unconcerned about Airbus's revised development schedule for the A350-800. The Phoenix-based carrier has 18 firm orders for the -800 and four for the -900 variant. Airbus plans to push back service entry for the -800 from 2014 to 2016.
But Parker said he was "not worried" about the -800 service entry delay because the carrier's deliveries are planned after the revised delivery date.
US Airways has carried out its own revisions to A350 delivery times since placing an initial order in 2005.
Originally, the aircraft had a 2014 delivery, which was pushed to 2015 and later deferred to 2017.