At Le Bourget Airport in the French capital on Monday, Airbus unveiled a new version of its A321, boasting a range 15 percent farther than its predecessor.
The new A321XLR is a director competitor to the Boeing 737, which its latest generations -- the MAX 8 and MAX 9 -- have been grounded following two fatal plane crashes in Indonesia last October and Ethiopia in March.
"The A321XLR is the next evolutionary step from the A321LR, which responds to market needs for even more range and payload, creating more value for the airlines," the company said in a media release.
The plane, which will enter service in 2023, will have 30 percent less fuel burn per seat that will enable operators "to open new worldwide routes, such as India to Europe or China to Australia, as well as further extending the family's non-stop reach on direct transatlantic flights between continental Europe and the Americas," it said.
Middle East Airlines then was announced as the launch airline customer of the new plane shortly after it was unveiled.
Lebanon's flag carrier ordered four of the jets, a deal that was followed by Virgin Atlantic who said via Twitter that it had ordered 14 A330neos.
The biggest deal of the day for the French aircraft manufacturer was with Air Lease Corporation, a Los Angeles-based aircraft leasing company, who signed letters of intent for 100 Airbus aircraft, including 50 A220-300, 27 of the new A321XLRs and incremental orders for 23 A321neos.
Meanwhile, Boeing had no orders for new planes to show for the day but did announce that GE Capital Aviation Services ordered 10 freighters converted from 737-800 airplanes with an option to buy 15 more.
Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told CNBC that the airshow wasn't about securing orders for its 737 Max 8 or Max 9 planes but instilling trust in customers that the plane is safe following the fatal accidents that were caused by issues with its anti-stall software.
"We'll get it back in the air when it's safe," he said. "That's is the most important thing here."
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