EasyJet has celebrated the arrival of the largest aircraft to join the fleet to date by bringing it to the Farnborough air show.
The Airbus A321neo media flight from London Gatwick was operated by an all-female flightcrew. Capt Suki Adams was the pilot and Capt Zoe Ebrey the co-pilot. EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren was joined on the flight by UK transport secretary Chris Grayling, bound for the trade show.
Lundgren said that using larger aircraft "allows us to grow at our slot-constrained hub airports". He notes that the CFM International Leap-1A-powered jet "has a smaller carbon footprint and is 50% quieter on take-off and landing than the conventional engines".
It is the first Leap-powered A321neo ACF (Airbus Cabin Flex) to be delivered incorporating Airbus's space-saving Space Flex aft galley and lavatories. The aircraft also features the new cabin door arrangement, with six main doors plus four overwing exits.
The 235-seat aircraft was delivered to the carrier's London Luton base on 13 July. It has since been ferried to Gatwick, before operating a first revenue service on 16 July: a single round-trip to Faro in Portugal. A further five aircraft will be delivered to the carrier by the end of its financial year, which runs to 30 September.
EasyJet will equip its A321neos with non-recline Recaro SL3510 seats. The typical seat dimensions incorporate a 29in pitch and a 17.2in width.
In May 2017, the carrier converted 30 A320neo orders into A321neos. "We have the flexibility to convert more A320neos orders into A321neos, but right now we will focus on making these 30 work and then make a decision later on," says Lundgren.
EasyJet continues to upgauge the size of its aircraft, as A319s are being gradually replaced by larger A320s featuring 186 seats.
The first A321neo arrives almost 15 years after EasyJet received its first A320-family aircraft in September 2003. That was part of a 240-aircraft commitment placed with Airbus in 2002.