US Airways has informed Airbus it needs the planned re-engined A321neo to have a similar mission to 757s that currently fly longer-haul sectors.

The carrier is a significant customer for Airbus, operating 232 aircraft built by the European airframer, including 93 A319s, 72 A320s and 51 A321s.

Carrier chief executive Derek Kerr told ATI and Flightglobal during the carrier's annual media on 6 April that an A321neo capable of 757 long-haul missions is "of huge interest to us. We've told them [Airbus] that".

US Airways needs an aircraft smaller than the 767 to operate transatlantic flights to Europe and missions to Hawaii profitably, says Kerr.

But Airbus has decided to push back introduction of the A321neo behind the A319neo.

On 5 April the airframer stated it plans to rejig the schedule for the A319neo and A321neo variants. The A319neo will now become the second variant produced, six months after the A320neo. Previously the A321neo was targeted for production prior to the A319neo model.

In the short term US Airways plans to stick to its current order stream for A320 family models and then consider the re-engined variant, says Kerr.

US Airways is taking delivery of 12 A320 family aircraft this year, followed by the same number in 2012. Sixteen A320 deliveries are scheduled for 2013 followed by 18 in 2014.

The carrier has some options in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and will likely look at the A320neo at that point in time, says Kerr.

Airbus has also accelerated the service entry of the A320neo variant by six months to October 2015.

US Airways is adding one 757 this year after explaining in October 2010 it was looking for replacement 757s for longer-haul flights, and one deal to lease aircraft had fallen through.

Kerr says US Airways is always looking for 757s, but "there's not a lot out there" as FedEx has "gobbled them up" for its freighter operations.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news