The first of EasyJet’s six new-generation Airbus A321neo aircraft has entered service at Gatwick airport.
The quieter, more fuel efficient aircraft provide additional passenger capacity without increasing aircraft movements.
Airbus says the aircraft are 50% quieter, four decibels on take-off and two on approach, than existing stock.
The manufacturer also claims they deliver 15% savings in fuel burn and carbon emissions compared to previous generations.
Each A321neo provides an additional 50 seats, which Gatwick says will accommodate an extra 85,000 passengers a year.
EasyJet is expected to add more A321neo to its roster of 65 Gatwick-based aircraft over the next five years, while retiring or repositioning others.
Sophie Dekkers, easyJet UK country director, said the new aircraft would allow the airline to consolidate its hold on some of Europe’s main airports, and those with slot constraints.
She added the A321neos brought “significant environmental and operational benefits”, such as lowering emissions and noise to reduce the airline’s impact on communities in and around major airports.
Gatwick, meanwhile, says it has spent nearly £10 million re-profiling one of its landing piers to accommodate the new aircraft, and will soon embark on a major extension of Pier 6 to accommodate eight new aircraft stands, designed specifically for A321neos, at a cost of £180 million.
It will also re-profile Pier 5 to accommodate Airbus A380s as part of an initial £1.1 billion investment in the airport.
The airport’s green credentials were further boosted by the arrival of Norwegian’s new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which also boast quieter engines and other environmental improvements. Gatwick is investing in a new Boeing hangar, due to open in early 2019.
Andy Sinclair, Gatwick’s head of airspace, said: “We are committed to reducing noise for our local communities and will continue to work closely with airline partners and invest in infrastructure to increase the number of quieter aircraft that can operate from Gatwick.”