October 1, 2013

The Airbus A321 explained

In last week’s post, we shared how we’re looking at the Airbus A321 as more than just an airplane. In fact, I couldn’t think of a better place to debut the new JetBlue Experience. Today, we wanted to share with you some details about this new fleet type and answer some frequently-asked questions.

Stretching 146 feet from nose to tail, the A321 is 23 feet longer than the A320 we have today. Despite its larger size, the A321 isn’t built to fly farther than the A320 (sorry, no Hawaii flights for now!). The real advantage of the A321 is its ability to help us operate more efficiently – with its added seat capacity, the per-seat costs (cost per available seat mile, or “CASM” in airline speak) are lower than our current A320.

For example, on a 1,000 mile trip (roughly the distance from New York to Orlando), with more seats to spread the cost of operating a flight, the A321 CASM is 12% lower than the A320. That can make a big difference in our narrow-margin business.

The A321 also gives us an advantage because we fly in a number of slot-controlled airports, like New York’s JFK. By swapping our 150-seat A320 for a larger A321 at a place like JFK, we can add seats without adding the number of departures.

What do those extra seats mean for the customer experience? Don’t worry, we’re not sacrificing comfort! While other airlines fit 220 or more seats on their A321s, we won’t. Keeping true to our commitment to offer the best seats in the skies, our all-core JetBlue experience A321s will be equipped with 190 seats. That’s right – we’re sacrificing 30+ seats to ensure we maintain the most legroom in coach and overall experience for our customers.

The second configuration, which joins the fleet in the first quarter of 2014, will offer our new, enhanced transcon experience. There will be a total of 143 core experience seats and 16 lie-flat seats, four of which are private suites with a closing door.

We currently have 30 A321s on order. The plan is to take 19 aircraft in the 190-seat all-core JetBlue Experience and 11 in the 159-seat enhanced transcon configuration. Of course, we will adjust this over time if needed to meet the evolving needs of our business and network strategy.

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