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Race to build smaller long-range planes could weigh on the aircraft-finance industry

After years of getting crowded with small planes and big planes, the skies are about to be invaded by medium-sized planes. The shift may delight airlines and flyers, but is starting to create problems for plane owners.

At last month’s Paris Air Show, European plane maker Airbus announced an extra-long-range version of its A321. It will be the first narrowbody jet able to travel up to 5,400 miles—the distance between Seattle and Barcelona. Boeing expected to fly a comparable new midmarket model by around 2025, perhaps two years after the A321XLR starts carrying passengers.

This battle for the so-called middle of the market—planes that sit between widebodies and narrowbodies—could unlock myriad new budget routes lasting between five and nine hours. Yet it poses a challenge for lessors, which will try to absorb the new models without knowing which will prove popular.

Excerpt from WSJ
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