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Arkia to replace Primera as A321LR launch operator

Israeli carrier Arkia is to take delivery of the first Airbus A321LR, replacing original launch operator Primera Air, although a date for the handover has yet to be fixed.

The airframer says it has secured around 120 orders for the variant, a long-range version of the A321neo, from about 12 operators.

It indicates that it will deliver the first A321LR from its Finkenwerder plant in Hamburg in the next few weeks.

Airbus confirms that Primera Air – which ceased operations on 2 October – will no longer be a launch customer for the type. The airline had been due to receive A321LRs via lessor AerCap in the fourth quarter of this year.

FlightGlobal understands that Arkia is to succeed Primera as the first recipient. Airbus has yet to finalise a date for the delivery.

Several other operators have declared that they are planning to acquire the A321LR, whose fuel-system modifications have recently secured certification from European and US authorities.

Norwegian, TAP Air Portugal, Air Transat, Aer Lingus are among the largest customers which have previously indicated that they will take the aircraft from 2019.

TAP is already in line to receive the first A330neo, a -900 variant, following its recent certification. Airbus has been promoting the pairing of the A321LR with the A330neo for 'middle-of-the-market' operations.

Other operators which have signalled A321LR operations next year include Air Astana, Air Arabia and Air Azores, while Jetstar and Peach have pointed to taking theirs in 2020.

Qatar Airways also told FlightGlobal recently that it was intending to introduce the A321LR as part of its agreement for A321neos.

Airbus had landed total firm orders for 1,985 A321neos, including the A321LR variant, by the end of August this year.

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