LCC Air Arabia plans to use its incoming Airbus A321neoLRs to serve new routes in Southeast Asia.

The UAE-based carrier will lease five 215-seat A321neoLRs from US-based lessor Air Lease Corp. The number appears to have been reduced from the six aircraft the airline announced in 2017. Delivery of the first A321neo has been delayed by several weeks but is now imminent, group CEO Adel Al Ali said.

Al Ali referred March 21 to an order for 120 A320neo family aircraft, which has yet to appear on Airbus’ order book. The split between the A320neo and the A321neo is under discussion and will probably be close to 50-50, Al Ali said.

With the LR, Air Arabia is counting on eight-hour flights, up from the maximum six hours with the A320ceo. The first route to make the most of the extra endurance will be Sharjah, UAE, to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Other destinations in the region are being considered.

Services to central and southern Africa may follow, but transatlantic operations are not on the agenda, Al Ali said.

Air Arabia operates under three air operators’ certificates in the UAE, Egypt and Morocco. All three companies are independent, with Moroccan interests holding 55% of Air Arabia Maroc. The group fleet stands at 53 A320ceos, configured with 174 seats, and is expected to grow to approximately 60 aircraft by 2020.

Air Arabia carried 8.7 million passengers in 2018, with a load factor of 81%.

Operations from Amman, Jordan, were shut down in 2017, and Al Ali said there is no plan to resume them, citing few routes with insufficient frequencies.

Thierry Dubois, thierry.dubois@aviationweek.com