JetBlue Airways has joined a growing customer base for the newly launched Airbus A321XLR, by converting 13 A321neo orders to the longer-range jet that debuted at the Paris air show this week.
The New York-based carrier has also converted options for 10 Airbus A220-300s to firm orders, boosting its backlog for the type to 70 aircraft.
Deliveries of the A321XLRs will begin in 2023 while the additional A220-300s will deliver from 2025, the airline says.
"The incredible extended range of the A321XLR allows us to evaluate even more overseas destinations as we think about JetBlue’s expansion into European markets plagued by high premium fares and subpar service," says JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes.
JetBlue announced in April its intention to convert 13 A321neos to the A321LR, to launch its first transatlantic services to London in 2021, from Boston and New York John F. Kennedy.
With today's conversion to the A321XLR, the airline will hold orders for 59 A321neos, 13 A321LRs and 13 A321XLRs.
JetBlue is scheduled to take delivery of its first A321neo this month. Additional European destinations in the longer term after London include Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris, the airline's president and chief operating officer Joanna Geraghty has said.
"The XLR opens up possibilities for service between the northeast US and destinations in south, central and northern Europe," says the carrier of its order for the A321XLR, which Airbus launched at the Paris air show on 17 June.
JetBlue's additional A220s will support the carrier's network expansion in the Americas, notes Hayes.
“Increasing our firm order for A220 aircraft gives us a valuable tool to support our network strategy in the Americas and continue to build our focus cities with an airplane that offers incredible economics and range," says Hayes.
The airline will take delivery of its first A220-300 in 2020, and will use the aircraft to replace its fleet of 60 Embraer 190s.
JetBlue says it remains committed to delivering earnings per share of between $2.50 and $3 by 2020, adding that the fleet changes were incorporated in the financial target.
The A320 family is the backbone of the carrier's fleet. It operates 130 A320s and 63 A321s alongside the 60 E190s, Cirium's Fleets Analyzer shows.
Prior to the JetBlue announcement, Airbus secured orders for 48 A321XLRs at the Paris air show, with commitments for another 79. Another 99 orders for the A321XLR were obtained through conversions of existing Airbus orders.