February 24, 2017 / 2:35 PM / a year ago

IAG eyes A321LR order for Aer Lingus, transatlantic routes

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - British Airways owner IAG looks set to order Airbus’s new long-range A321LR aircraft for its Irish carrier Aer Lingus, as transatlatic competition hots up with the deployment by low-cost newcomers of similar single-aisle aircraft.

“We think that’s going to be a great aircraft, and we’re looking at it. We have options on the aircraft,” IAG CEO Willie Walsh said on Friday.

Budget airline Norwegian Air Shuttle on Thursday announced new routes between Ireland and the UK to the east coast of the United States using Boeing’s 737-MAX aircraft, taking advantage of the lower costs of operating smaller than normal aircraft on medium-haul routes to offer lower fares.

Last year Norwegian also ordered 30 of the 206-seater Airbus A321LRs, which are due to enter service from 2019.

Icelandic low-cost carrier Wow Air also flies between Europe and the United States using A320 family single-aisle planes, although a stop for refuelling is required in Iceland.

Walsh said the Airbus 321LR aircraft could easily serve routes to the east coast of the United States from Ireland, Britain and Spain, or even fly south into Africa.

“We think there’s an opportunity to consider quite a number of destinations that we wouldn’t consider possible with ... larger aircraft,” he said, speaking after the group reported 2016 results.

Walsh said the jet could be used for other airlines in the group, which also comprises Iberia and Vueling. (Reporting by Alistair Smout; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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