By Kurt Hofmann, ATW
Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is considering ordering the Airbus A321neoLR to operate on routes from Zurich to long-haul destinations in Africa, SWISS CEO Thomas Klühr told ATW.
"It is an interesting option, especially on routes where a 300-seat widebody aircraft is difficult to fill. The A321neoLR offers very efficient operations," Klühr said.
Lufthansa Group subsidiary SWISS is slated to take delivery of 15 Airbus A320neo family aircraft in 2019 and 2020, but it does not have any A321neoLRs on order. The A321neoLR is expected to enter service in the second half of 2018.
It is unclear whether SWISS could switch some of its A320neo family aircraft orders to the A321neoLR. Klühr said SWISS does have the option to switch A320neo/A321neo orders to A320ceo family orders if issues with the Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan (GTF) engine that have caused A320neo delivery delays persist.
"We hope the difficulties regarding the A320neo engines can be solved. It is our goal to have this aircraft. However, we have the option to switch the order from the A320/321neo to the A320/321ceo," Klühr said.
SWISS's current Airbus narrowbody family fleet includes 21 A320-200s, nine A321-100/200s and five A319s. The A319s will be retired by 2019 and replaced with Bombardier CSeries aircraft. SWISS recently retired its last Avro RJ100 and is phasing in 30 CSeries aircraft by the end of 2018.
On the widebody front, SWISS plans to invest CHF100 million (US$103.5 million) to retrofit the interiors of its five A340-300s. "For five aircraft, this is a significant investment," Klühr said. After the refurbishment, the A340s will have 223 seats-eight in first class, 47 in business and 168 in economy class.
Two new Boeing 777-300ERs will join the fleet by spring 2018.