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TAP to order A321XLR: Neeleman

TAP Air Portugal plans to order the Airbus A321XLR, which was launched earlier today at the Paris air show.

"We will order it," TAP Air Portugal co-owner David Neeleman told reporters in Washington DC at an event celebrating the airline's launch of service to Washington Dulles, hours after Airbus formally unveiled the A321XLR at the Paris air show.

Neeleman, who is not attending the show, says TAP could potentially convert some existing A321LRs to the XLR. "If we have some left, we will take some XLRs," he says.

TAP Air Portugal chief executive Antonoaldo Neves tells FlightGlobal that the airline is considering starting talks with Airbus on a potential conversion, but this has not happened yet. The A321XLR will not be available until 2023.

The A321XLR will allow the airline to reach destinations further in the USA like Chicago, and to get to cities like Salvador in Brazil, says Neeleman.

"It's very important, it's necessary, it's needed," he says of Airbus' launch of the A321XLR. "Because the [A321]LR didn't end up having the range it was promised… the LR wasn't a [Boeing] 757 replacement. The XLR is more suited."

TAP operates two A321LRs currently, and will take delivery of another two later this year, Neves tells FlightGlobal. The fleet is currently scheduled to grow to 10 aircraft in 2020, and then 14 in 2021, he adds.

"The LR is a great airplane for TAP," says Neves, adding that the XLR will allow the airline to go even further.

Earlier today in Paris, Air Lease signed a letter of intent for 27 A321XLRs out of an order for 100 Airbus aircraft. Middle East Airlines also plans to convert four A321neo orders to the XLR.

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