HomeBussinessAer Lingus confirms it won’t be launch customer for new Airbus XLR...

Aer Lingus confirms it won’t be launch customer for new Airbus XLR jet


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The first jet to roll off the production line is now going elsewhere within the IAG group, which owns Aer Lingus, as a pilot pay dispute at the Irish carrier scuppered plans for the new aircraft to join its fleet in September.

Aer Lingus had intended to use the first narrowbody XLR aircraft in its fleet on its Dublin-Minneapolis St Paul service, which the airline has just relaunched using a widebody Airbus A330, from this winter.

The airline had previously warned that unless the dispute over pilot pay could be resolved in time, the first ever A321-XLR jet delivery from Airbus would have to be deployed elsewhere within the IAG group. IAG also owns British Airways, Iberia and Vueling.

Aer Lingus confirmed that Monday this week was the “last possible decision date” for the painting of the first A321XLR aircraft.

“Unfortunately, Aer Lingus was not able to give IAG the cost structure assurances necessary for this investment and so the inaugural A321XLR – originally planned for Aer Lingus – will be allocated elsewhere in the group,” a spokesperson for the airline said on Tuesday.

The airline declined to say how the loss of the jet will impact its transatlantic route network development.

The long-awaited Airbus A321XLR aircraft is billed by Airbus as a “long-range route opener”. The plane maker says it will use 30pc less fuel than the previous generation of jets. It has a range of 4,700 nautical miles (8,700km) and can carry between 180 and 220 passengers, depending on the configuration used by airline customers.

That means the jet can be deployed by Aer Lingus to destinations in the United States.

IAG ordered 14 A321XLR jets in 2019 at the Paris Air Show. Of those, Aer Lingus was due to receive six, with the first due for delivery in September.

After missing out on the first jet, the second XLR remains due to be delivered to Aer Lingus in December. That will likely give it time to resolve the pilot pay dispute before a decision on painting the livery on that jet needs to be made in advance of delivery.

The other four XLR aircraft are slated to be delivered to the airline next year.

Aer Lingus, whose chief executive is Lynne Embleton, also told pilots in a letter last month that the potential loss of the planned A321XLR aircraft scheduled for delivery to Aer Lingus this year would immediately reduce its pilot requirement by 80 and its command requirement by 40.

IALPA’s pay proposal includes a 20pc pay rise and the additional 7pc covering the cost by pilots of a 2019 crewing agreement. The 12.25pc proposed by the carrier included 3.75pc to pay for that crewing agreement.

This week, the airline and the union made their submissions to the Labour Court, which will now have to make a recommendation to the two sides.

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