Civil aviation, commercial flights in particular, have been undergoing some radical transformations over the past decades. In the ’90s it was the norm to see 747s flying long range routes, while now it is becoming the new normal to see even single aisle twin engine jets operate such sectors. That all connects to the topic of today’s post. What are Thin and Long Routes in aviation?
What Is a Thin and Long Route?
A thin and long route is a sector with needs the aircraft to cover a significant distance, hence long, where however demand isn’t particularly developed, therefore thin.
These routes were almost impossible to transform into profitable services before the new generation of single aisle twin jets entered service. With the aircraft of the ’90s and early 2000s they were simply not economically viable.
What Aircraft Types Are Used For These Routes?
Because demand isn’t very high thin and long routes require a plane which is:
- Fuel Efficient
- With a Long Range
Planes with these characteristics only became available in recent years. Therefore we’ve only seen this type of routes growing significantly recently.
The most used planes for these kind of services are the Airbus A220 and A321neo families, along with the Embraer E2 family and the Boeing 737 MAX.
All these planes have enabled the airlines that operate them to start up routes they would have never had a chance to before. However the true game changer of long and thin routes might be the A321XLR when it finally enters service once it has been certified.
The latest evolution of the A320 family promises to allow airlines to operate easily transatlantic flights or extremely long sectors which before where something that only wide bodies served. At the moment the plane is undergoing its certification and we’re still not 100% sure that it’ll deliver on its range promises.