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Boeing’s decision to push a clean sheet airplane to 2035 has a profound implication for one airplane in particular. Now alone in the market for at least the next decade, the A321neo is changing the business of long-haul narrowbody travel. However, with 862 aircraft in service as of November 3, 2022, according to ch-aviation, the A321neo family has yet to find its ultimate in range from the upcoming XLR.

Yet, the business of flying narrowbodies long distances is not new, forged by Boeing’s 757, which re-established the precedent for the single-aisle fleet that new-generation aircraft with ranges between 2,500 to 3,500 nautical miles have yet to surpass. Indeed, even the uniquely positioned north Atlantic corridor, analysis shows the recent renaissance of long-haul single-aisle flying has not yet reached 757-led historic highs.

Related: Boeing puts a quarter century between its all-new airplanes

As endurance continues to expand with the latest generation of narrowbodies, this TAC Analysis looks at the trend of flying the narrow farther. While the A321LR and the addition of its belly-consuming auxiliary fuel tanks works to dominate the long-haul narrowbody, we consider the context of the trails blazed before it.

The narrowbody has yet to achieve its historical potential for longer distances and the trend has been reignited. With the A321XLR and its redesigned fuel system waiting in the wings for its up to 4,700 nautical mile debut in the second quarter of 2024, the industry looks toward a regrowth of the long-haul narrowbody, destined to eclipse the heights of 2012 and the 757 which will remain unreplaced by Boeing.

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Courtney Miller is Managing Director of Analysis for The Air Current. Miller most recently spent 10-years with Bombardier Aerospace, serving as director, North America sales for the company’s commercial aircraft line and led airline marketing and analysis for the western hemisphere for airlines in North and South America and the community of global aircraft lessors. Miller is also founder of visualapproach.io, where he merged industry history and analysis with insightful and beautiful data visualization to illustrate contemporary trends. Miller is a 3,000-hour U.S. airline pilot and began his career flying for U.S. regional airline Comair. He holds a Masters of Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle University and a Bachelors of Science in Aviation Technology from Purdue University. He is based in the Dallas, Texas Metroplex.

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