Arkia Israeli Airlines (IZ, Tel Aviv Ben Gurion) will become the launch operator for the A321neo(LR) variant following the collapse of Primera Air Scandinavia (PF, Billund), which was previously due to become the type's first user, FlightGlobal has reported.

Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) has reportedly not firmed the date of the first delivery yet, although it is likely to happen before the end of 2018.

Primera Air, a leisure focused airline turned transatlantic scheduled low-cost carrier, ceased operations on October 2. It was due to source its A321neo(LR)s via AerCap. At the time of its collapse, Primera blamed the delayed deliveries of the type as one of the reasons for its financial woes.

Arkia has three A321neo on order directly with Airbus, of which at least two have already been confirmed as the LR variant. The carrier will most likely use the twinjets to replace its last remaining B757-300. Arkia also operates two E190s, and three E195s, and has two A330-900s on order. It also wet-leases two B737-800s, one B767-300(ER) from Neos (NO, Milan Malpensa) and Travel Service Airlines (QS, Prague Ruzyne).

Other airlines which are due to take the A321neo(LR) in 2019 include Norwegian (DY, Oslo Gardermoen), TAP Air Portugal (TP, Lisbon), Air Transat (TS, Montréal Trudeau), Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l), Air Astana (KC, Astana), Air Arabia (G9, Sharjah), and Azores Airlines (S4, Ponta Delgada).

Separately, Air Transat President Jean-Marc Eustache told Bloomberg that the proposed even longer-range variant of the A321neo, dubbed A321neo(XLR), could debut in 2023. As such, it would come to the market at least two years before the not yet confirmed Boeing Middle of the Market ("B797") jet, with which it would compete with.

Eustache also added that Air Transat was a "natural buyer" for the A321neo(XLR), which it could use on European routes.