Lebanon's Middle East Airlines orders Airbus A321 XLR

Carrier to deploy new jet on routes in Africa and Asia

Lebanon's national carrier Middle East Airlines (MEA) signed a firm order for four of Airbus's longest-range jets at the Paris Airshow, making it the region's first carrier to commit to the A321 XLR single-aisle plane.

The airline will deploy the A321 XLR, an upgrade to Airbus' popular A321 Neo narrow-body, on routes in Africa and Asia, Airbus said in a statement on Monday.

The agreement takes the carrier's order tally for Airbus narrow bodies to 15 A321 Neo jets, which includes 11 A321 Neos and four A321 XLRs, the Toulouse-based planemaker said.

Airbus launched the longest-range narrow-body jetliner at the Paris Airshow on Monday, adding a longer stride to its A321 Neo with a range of 4,700 nautical miles and the new jet can fly transatlantic routes. Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2023.

"We can fly from north-eastern Asia into south Asia, from the Middle East to Bali or from Japan deep into Australia, and so on," Airbus chief salesman Christian Scherer said in Paris.

Plane-lessor Air Lease Corporation ordered 27 of the Airbus A321XLR jets. MEA, which is owned by the central bank of Lebanon, said it is the launch airline customer for the A321 XLR.

Airbus won orders for its newest jet, pushing its advantage over embattled US rival Boeing which is still trying to get its best-selling narrow-body industry workhorse 737 Max back into the skies after two fatal crashes.

Published: June 18, 2019 08:27 AM


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