I recall how much JetBlue and the A320 changed TCON flying in the USA. I remember here people were posting the preference for widebodies or how convenient hubbing is (was?). I'm trying to recall the last time I flew to the East Coast (I live between LAX and LGB) on a flight that wasn't a narrowbody. Short term, airlines must return widebodies. Mid-term, they must offer what customers want and frequency has been at the top of the requested list.
It is worth noting who is ordering and what advantage each airline should gain from the A321xLRhttps://simpleflying.com/airbus-a321xlr-orders-2/
AA: 50. Besides replacing the 752, this was for East coast USA to mid-size European cities. IMHO, I see growth being slowed, but not so much. Passengers will still be concerned about contact for years, so bypassing hubs is a good thing.
UA: 50, the first 40 replace 752. So a small growth of existing service. The slightly extended range should help (e.g., to South America from Houston).
QF: 36, the plan was to expand the network to Asia. I see that being delayed a bit, but the strategy seems right.
AirAsiaX: 30, I would be cautious about predicting if these will be taken up until AirAsia (in particular AirAsiaX) is on better economic footing.
Wizz Air: 20, this is to expand to 7 to 8 hour routes (recall, high density). This is an airline keeping a simple fleet and growing
AirArabia: 20. This is a great way for the airline to keep a simple fleet and expand to Europe, Africa, and more of Asia.
VietJet: 15, a low risk way to start long haul routes.
Frontier: 18 Officially, this ULCC is being less ambitious (coast to coast and Hawaii service). Their configuration is too dense for TATL, but they will go more international.
JetBlue: 13. I definitely see growth from BOS and JFK across the Atlantic. I would expect more service to South America too.
JetSmart: 13, a way to expand further while keeping a high density configuration.
Sky: 10, also a way to expand while keeping the fleet simple.
Cebu Pacfic: 10, due to their ULCC configuration, it will take the xLR to fly further. I would be shocked if this doesn't become a much larger order considering how their main competition isn't efficiently run.
Flynas: 10, mid-east to EU, Africa and Asia
Iberia: 8 (Just enough range for some TATL...)
Czech airlines: 7 (I'm not as confident on this order, but then again, I don't know their plans as well.)
Air Lingus: 6 (a nice start to fragment TATL to operate a growing hub at DUB)
Airbus has enough sales, they need to get the development complete.
I personally am a huge fan of frequency. I find myself taking early morning flights, mid day flights, redeyes... all dependent upon what I need the day I am flying.
2023 isn't that far away. I fully expect more airlines to order the A321xLR, but of course not now.
Long haul flying is incredibly expensive, with such a tiny portion of the cost the purchase price of the aircraft. If yield can be improved by right sizing the service offered, we just might see an earlier recovery of airlines.
Winter is coming.