Hortense des Dorides
French expat, Hortense des Dorides is an Ottawa based travel and lifestyle writer. Iceland, Utah, Hawaii or the Canadian Arctic are amongst her recent adventures. In her spare time, she likes to hike and camp.
On May 3, Air Transat welcomed its first Airbus A321neoLR, a single-aisle aircraft with 199 long-range seats.
READ MORE: Air Transat named World's Best Leisure Airline
Last Friday, PAX took a seat aboard this technologically-savvy aircraft for a direct flight from Montreal to Bordeaux, France.
Air Transat announced that it would be an all-Airbus fleet by 2022. It will acquire 15 of these next-generation aircraft in total, largely in prt because of the improve onboard experience they promise their passengers.
The Airbus A321neoLR has undeniable qualities, specific to the latest generation aircraft.
First, the cabin, which includes 12 seats, three rows in Class Club, and 187 seats in Economy class, is very quiet. We could watch movies with basic headphones, not noise-cancelling ones, and didn't have to crank the volume up all the way to block out surrounding noise from the cabin.
The comfort has also been enhanced:
- In the Club Class, the seats are more ergonomic and have an adjustable leg rest
- Economy class seats are wider, for a total of 46 cm (18 inches), or 3.8 cm more than in the A310
- The aircraft is equipped with the industry's widest single-aisle cab, allowing easier movement, boarding and unloading for passengers
- In terms of entertainment, the individual screens in economy class are also larger (25.7 cm against 22.6 cm) and have a USB port
An all-Airbus fleet
The first commercial flight was made on May 15, on the Montreal-Nantes route.
"It was the first transatlantic commercial flight for an Airbus A321neoLR," said Gilles Ringwald, vice-president, commercial, who states that Air Transat is the only North American airline to operate this aircraft, for the moment.
The Quebec airline, crowned for the second consecutive year as the World's Best Leisure Airline at the Skytrax awards ceremony, wants to operate an all-Airbus fleet, and is slowly transitioning its aircraft to achieve that goal by 2022.
"The arrival of these aircraft in our fleet touches on several important aspects of our business plan: optimizing our operating costs above all, offering a more flexible network adapted to our commercial reality, and finally enhancing the customer experience," said Joseph Adamo, chief distribution officer and president, Transat Distribution Canada.
In concrete terms, this aircraft saves 15 per cent on fuel consumption, making it the most efficient in its category.
Versatility & flexibility
The A321neoLR respond very well to the commercial reality of Air Transat, since they are planes offering a wide range of action (up to 7,400 kilometers, the longest range of all single-aisle aircraft) with a capacity of less than 200 seats, adapted to many destinations offered by Air Transat, in the South as in Europe.
"The beauty of this device is its versatility and flexibility," said Ringwald. Given our network, it is an airplane that we can use on almost all of our lines. For Europe, only Rome and Athens are out of reach from Toronto and Montreal."
The second A321neoLR will be delivered by June 30. Then, two more will follow in February 2020, as well as two others by May 2020.
The delivery dates of the last nine aircraft are not yet known, but they should be delivered by the end of 2021, so to have a modernized fleet that is 100 per cent Airbus by 2022.
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