airBaltic Eyes Airbus A321XLR With JetBlue-Style Business Cabin For US Flights

Speaking exclusively to Simple Flying at the recent Farnborough Airshow, airBaltic’s CEO Martin Gauss suggested that the Baltic carrier was looking at the business case for a long-haul expansion. Such growth would likely involve the Airbus A321XLR, which would also see the airline rolling out lie-flat JetBlue-style business class seats.

Since its Boeing 737s and Q400s were grounded at the height of the pandemic, airBaltic has proudly been an all-A220 operator. As we’ve seen in the aviation industry, nothing lasts forever, and it seems that this fate may soon hit airBaltic’s all -Airbus-A220 status as it looks to expand into unserved markets.

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Eyeing the United States

Previously, the US was a market that airBaltic said that it wouldn’t be serving. Though things are gradually changing, the airline’s CEO revealed to Simple Flying in an exclusive interview that it is reviewing the business case for flights across the Atlantic:

“We are re-evaluating the business case of us serving long-haul routes … We know the demand for North America, which is significant for a direct route, but nobody has done it yet. Today, direct traffic from the Baltics to the US is already sufficient. “

airBaltic is a proud all-A220 carrier … for now. Photo: Jean-Vincent Reymondon via Airbus

A bigger plane is needed

With the A220 unable to fly as far as is necessary, the airline is taking a look at the Airbus A321XLR alongside smaller widebodies.

“We’re currently looking at the A321XLR, but we also asked which other small widebodies are available and what their economics are. The XLR is the first aircraft coming in 2025 that would enable us to do our concept on a different aircraft type.”

airBaltic would look to the Airbus A321XLR for North American flights. Photo: Jean-Vincent Reymondon via Airbus

Gauss made it clear that, at this point in time, such plans remain just that. The airline is looking at the business case for such an expansion and would only proceed if there is a “clear positive business case, and we have the financing to set up such an operation “. Gauss added that” you have to do a lot of planning “.


Lie-flat for long-haul?

When asked if North American flights would see the carrier adding a lie-flat product to its aircraft, Gauss confirmed that this would be the case,

“This would be the change the business class would have because that’s where we exceed seven hours.”

While offering a business class cabin, airBaltic only has a single type of seating. Photo: Oliver Cote via Airbus

Gauss said that he was very impressed with the Airspace by Airbus product employed by JetBlue on its transatlantic routes and that he would seek to include such a product should he expand to flying long-haul.

“We would be looking at a JetBlue kind of product. We’re always looking at what they do because I’m very impressed with the JetBlue product. That is what customers want, and we always try and do what the customers want, not What we as an airline want. The JetBlue cabin is one of the products that I think really works for airlines which have a hybrid concept. “

Gauss is a huge fan of the Airbus Airspace cabin offered on JetBlue’s A321LRs. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

About the airspace cabin

JetBlue is the launch customer for Airbus’ Airspace cabin on a narrowbody aircraft. The product sees a 1-1 configuration of suites at the business end of the aircraft, with each seat having full lie-flat capabilities, while the very first row of suites is slightly larger.


Read More: Exclusive: Inside JetBlue’s New Transatlantic Airspace A321LR

Would you like to see airBaltic flying the Airbus A321XLR to North America? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!

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