The newly launched Airbus A321XLR saw another major order boost with an MOU for 50 of the long-range narrowbodies from US private equity firm Indigo Partners.

The deal, announced June 19 on the third day of the air show, includes the conversion of 18 existing A321neo family orders.

Indigo has major stakes in four ultra-LCCs—US-based Frontier, Chile-based JetSmart, Mexico-based Volaris and Hungary-based Wizz Air, whose CEOs all joined Indigo managing partner Bill Franke at the signing ceremony in Paris. Twenty of the A321XLRs will be allocated to Wizz, 18 to Frontier and 12 to JetSmart.

The four carriers operate 295 Airbus aircraft in total and have 636 more on order.

“We are big fans of the Airbus product,” Franke told reporters. “As we looked at the XLR and the opportunity it would provide to the network of these three carriers, we became convinced this was the aircraft that we needed to add to the portfolio.

“We are anxious to see the airplane in service. It expands the network opportunity for our carriers dramatically and that’s important strategically to the airlines relative to the market and the competition.”

The A321XLR has a range of around 8,700 km, 15% longer than the A321LR. Depending on cabin configuration, it can carry up to 244 passengers.

Frontier CEO Barry Biffle said the addition of the long-range variant would enable it to fly from east to west coast in the US and to reach Hawaii at full capacity, as well as exploring international opportunities in Europe and South America.

“We cannot go coast-to-coast in the United States [with current aircraft]. The furthest we can fly is Philadelphia to Las Vegas. The range of this aircraft enables us to go from New York, Boston and Miami to all points in the western US and Hawaii,” he said.

Chilean carrier JetSmart’s CEO Estuardo Ortiz said the aircraft offers a “tremendous opportunity” to open routes not possible before, with the US, Mexico and destinations across the Caribbean now within range.

“These are markets which are very attractive and have high potential for stimulation,” Ortiz said.

Wizz CEO József Váradi said the XLR gives the Central and Eastern Europe airline an opportunity to extend its network.

“If you look at our network, it spans the Canary Islands to Astana [Nur-Sultan], Reykjavik to Dubai. It’s a huge geography and we believe the XLR will bring unique opportunities to extend the operating model.”

Franke said no A321XLRs are destined for Volaris because the high altitude of its base at Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport means the aircraft adds no additional range.

The A321XLR was launched on Monday, the show opening day and has already secured more than 120 orders or commitments from airlines and lessors that include Air Lease Corp., Cebu Pacific, International Airlines Group and Qantas.

Airbus CCO Christian Scherer said, “it’s had a great take off so far and is now putting on the afterburners.”

David Casey, david.casey@ubm.com