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HomeAirline NewsFrontier Airlines CEO: A321XLR transatlantic routes 'definitely under consideration'

Frontier Airlines CEO: A321XLR transatlantic routes ‘definitely under consideration’

With 18 Airbus A321XLR aircraft to be delivered to Frontier Airlines, the US ULCC is considering entering the transatlantic market and has not ruled out long-haul flights to South America.

The A321XLR, which completed its maiden flight in June and is due to enter service in 2024, will be the longest-range aircraft produced in the last decade and the longest-range narrow-body aircraft in the current global fleet. With a range of 4,700 nm, it will be able to fly 30% further than the basic A321neo and 700 nm more than the currently used A321LR variant.

Denver-based ( DEN ) Frontier flies heavily domestically with a growing near-international network, but the carrier — an operator of the entire A320 family — currently has no aircraft with transatlantic range. That will change in 2026, when the airline will begin taking delivery of its A321XLR aircraft.

The A321XLR “will allow us to fly to Europe, Hawaii and deeper into South America,” Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said at the Routes World 2022 conference in Las Vegas this week.

Transatlantic flying is “definitely a consideration,” he added.

Biffle said he spoke to a representative from Ireland’s Shannon Airport (SNN) during Routes World who “has been hitting me up because he knows XLR is coming”.

A service for SNN “would be interesting,” Biffle added, stressing that no decisions have been made on potential transatlantic routes.

Asked by Routes whether Frontier would consider going beyond the existing single-class configuration and adding premium seats for long-haul flights, he said the airline was “studying it” but had not made any decisions regarding the A321XLR configuration.

“Everybody wants more” legroom and equipment, Biffle added. “The question is, are they willing to pay more? It’s a square footage game. There is so much square footage in an airplane. And what is the best configuration to achieve the highest income? … It’s not taboo for me to have a premium product, but we have to look at it.”

Regardless of the cabin layout, Frontier is actively exploring potential international options with the A321XLR. Biffle noted that he recently visited Airbus headquarters to discuss route options.

“I was in Toulouse three weeks ago and we were going through what the area has allowed you to do from different cities in the northeastern United States,” Biffle said. “From Philadelphia (PHL), you could effectively get to everything in the UK, Scotland and Ireland, and of course you can get to mainland Europe as well.”

He added: “From Miami (MIA) you can get pretty much anywhere in South America. It also allows us to do other interesting things. You can fly from the West Coast [of the US] to the Caribbean.”

While the carrier considers future long-haul options, it continues to focus on its near-international flights connecting US markets with warm-weather vacation destinations. “We want to expand our almost international company much more,” Biffle said. “We have invested significantly in Jamaica, Cancun (CUN) and the Caribbean in general. For example, we recently announced Denver Montego Bay (MBJ).

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