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UPDATED: Boeing Announces Large 737 Order for Ryanair

Ryanair Boeing 737-800. Photo by Andrew W. Sieber.

Ryanair Boeing 737-800. Photo by Andrew W. Sieber.

A little after 5:00am EST this morning, Boeing let the cat out of the bag: Ryanair is set to order 175 Boeing 737-800′s, which is the largest Boeing airplane order in Europe to date. Although an impressive order, the news was surely not breaking, since rumors of the order have been circulating for a while. 

“This agreement is an amazing testament to the value that the Next-Generation 737 brings to Ryanair,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Ray Conner. “We are pleased that the Next-Generation 737, as the most efficient, most reliable large single-aisle airplane flying today, has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of the Ryanair fleet. Our partnership with this great European low-cost carrier is of the utmost importance to everyone at The Boeing Company and I could not be more proud to see it extended for years to come.”

BONUS: The five stages passengers go through when flying ultra low-cost carriers

Currently, Ryanair operates a fleet of over 300 737-800′s and it is expected that these new aircraft will help them expand their operations. When asked if Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Ryanair, if there were plans for long haul operations, he stated, “I don’t see an opportunity for the next two to three years.” In proper O’Leary style (who is not known to act like your typical CEO), stated that he was, “drunk at the time,” when asked how much he spent on the price of the aircraft.

When O’Leary was asked why New York City was chosen as the location of the announcement, he jokingly replied it was to help divert attention from the 787 within the US. He then clarified that about 50% of the airline’s shareholders are located on the east coast of the US. O’Leary stated he was planning on attending a few shareholder meetings to assure folks that the airline is not planing to start growing like “gangbusters,” and that they plan to have a more controlled growth.

This order also means that the Boeing 737NG will continue to be produced next to the 737 MAX for quite sometime. “As today’s announcement demonstrates, there is still significant demand for the Next-Generation 737,” Linda Lee, 737 Program Communications explained to AirlineReporter.com. “This demand is the reason we decided to boost production rates to 42 per month starting the 2nd quarter of 2014.”

Yesterday, Boeing had sent out notification of the announcement today and there was quite a bit of speculation, but now we know. We were hoping for something a bit more glitzy. I mean even, seeing the Ryanair logo on the new MAX winglet would be more exciting. I guess overall this is good news for both Boeing and Airbus right? Where an order for 175 airplanes from one airline just isn’t as exciting as it used to be?

David Parker Brown and Jason Rabinowitz contributed to this story. Also catch additional background information on Airchive.com.

TWITTER PHOTOS FROM THE RYANAIR 737 PRESS CONFERENCE:

A Farewell to My Buddy Stephen McNamara with Ryanair

Ryanair Boeing 737 seen in Seattle before delivery. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

Ryanair Boeing 737 seen in Seattle before delivery. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

If you cover the airline world, you probably know the name, Stephen McNamara. He is the crazy (or pure genius) PR person behind Ryanair. I was shocked to recently read that he will be leaving Ryanair and heading over to Rugby Football Union as their Director of Communications.

You see, I have a special place in my heart for Mr. McNamara. He is well known as being elusive to many in the aviation journalism biz and I was extremely privileged to have him email me about some “mis-information” a while back. Him leaving has stirred up the memories and I wanted to reminisce.

It all started with me writing a story way back on March 10th 2010 about Ryanair stranding some passengers. The story showed up on my blog, but also on my Seattle PI syndication. This is where Mr. McNamara found my story and strongly disagreed with what he read. He wrote directly to the Seattle PI, but since they have no editorial control over my content, the email was forwarded to me. Mr. McNamara did not like that the Seattle PI was not able to change my story.

“Your answer is less than satisfactory and it is a damming indictment of the Seattlepi.com that you would allow clearly incorrect and biased information appear and remain on your site – brushing this off as an issue for the publisher is simply rubbish – it is on your site, you are the publisher,McNamara stated in his response to the PI (see his full reply here). Even at this early stage in my blogging career, I knew I was on to some gold-standard material.

BONUS: The five stages passengers go through when flying ultra low-cost carriers — like Ryanair

Stephen McNamara, currently head of PR for Ryanair.

Stephen McNamara, currently head of PR for Ryanair.

I decided to write him back. I truly don’t want to be writing wrong information and was happy to update my story. Although he stated that he doesn’t “have the time (or resources) to correct the errors most bloggers come up with,” McNamara gave me a very long winded reply email correcting my mistakes. His reply was filled with even better material and I questioned if I should share his entire email or just give a summary. Knowing Ryanair loves the negative attention and the fact that the message was just too good not to share, I made the decision to copy and paste

If the same thing would happen today, I probably wouldn’t make the same move, but there are benefits to being a lesser known blogger.

Don’t get me wrong here… I have tremendous respect for Ryanair and Mr. McNamara. The crazy ideas they have come up with, just to get free publicity, have been pure genius. The fact that so many journalists around the world pick up the stories as fact has been hilarious.

Passengers and media love to hate this airline, but their business model of extreme ala-cart pricing and laughable headlines getting them free publicity has made them one of the most successful airlines.

It is amusing to me that some headings (example one and two) stated that working as head of Ryanair PR is the worst PR job in the world (well, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary actually said it first). I think I have to disagree a bit. Where else can you come up with stories, like offering standing seats only, banning kids from flights, requiring passengers to pay for toilets or state you are looking at only having one pilot instead of two in each plane and have media around the world eat up your story and give your company publicity? That sounds like a pretty rad PR job to me.

So, Mr. McNamara, I salute you and the work you have done at Ryanair. I hope your replacement is as equally entertaining and able to provide high-end content for little ‘ol bloggers like me. The fact that I have traveled the world to cover different airline and travel stories, but our interaction over two and a half years ago is still one of my favorite all-time stories says something. I wish you the best of luck.

NOTE: I will be emailing Mr. McNamara with a link to this story hoping to get some sort of comment. If so, I will update the story. I wouldn’t hold your breath, but it is the giving season right?

This story written by… David Parker Brown, Editor & Founder.

David started AirlineReporter.com in the summer of 2008, but has had a passion for aviation since he was a kid. Born and raised in the Seattle area (where he is currently based) has surely had an influence and he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else in the world.

@AirlineReporter | Flickr | YouTube

Ryanair to Offer Child-Free Flights. Real or April Fools Marketing Genius?

Ryanair Boeing 737

Ryanair Boeing 737

Yesterday Ryanair “officially” announced that they will start offering child-free flights starting in October. Is this real or another free-publicity tactic by Ryanair? Well, the catch is that Ryanair might be crazy enough to do this. However, the fact that it is April Fools day tomorrow, makes me suspect this might all be a ruse. Also take into account that they have a history of pulling April Fools jokes in the past, from providing moon flightsoffering first class seating and selling porn on board, Ryanair has been a fun little jokster.

Don’t get me wrong, this is genius marketing. First you get media outlets to report on the story, creating buzz and free advertising. Then, after it is announced it was a joke, there is another round of free advertising, saying it wasn’t true and how silly Ryanair is being. I was able to get an official copy of the press release, but I haven’t been able to get any confirmation from them that this is an April Fools joke. Sure, maybe this is real, but I am willing to bet that it is not. Since the press release itself is so entertaining, I want to share it with you all:

RYANAIR TO INTRODUCE ‘CHILD FREE’ FLIGHTS

Ryanair, the world’s favourite airlines, today announced that it will introduce ‘Child Free’ flights from October (winter schedule) after a Europe-wide survey of 1,000 passengers showed that half would pay higher fares to avoid other people’s children.  The survey showed that a third of passengers (36%) have had flights ‘ruined’ by other people’s noisy kids with one in five passengers (18%) urging Ryanair to restrict the number of children on flights.

While the survey found that passengers would prefer to avoid other people’s children, it placed ‘blame’ firmly with parents with top gripes being:

  1. 50% Parents who expect ‘special treatment’ because they have children.
  2. 25% Parents who allow children to annoy those in seats behind.
  3. 15% Parents who board late and expect others to accommodate them.
  4. 10% Parents who allow children to run in the aisles or kick seats.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said:

“When it comes to children we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people’s little monsters when travelling.  While half our passengers would like us to divide our cabins up into ‘adult’ and ‘family’ areas it is not operationally possible due to our free seating policy, with optional priority boarding.  However, with clear demand for ‘child free’ flights Ryanair will introduce child free flights on high frequency routes from the start of our winter schedule in October.”

So what do you think? Real or fake? Would you like to see child free flights?

Image: jplphoto

Ryanair Says it Needs to Improve Service Quality? What?

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-EKK) at Boeing Field before being delivered to Ryanair

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 (EI-EKK) at Boeing Field before being delivered to Ryanair

Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary is known for saying crazy things. Standing seats, paid toilets and more recently flying with only one pilot. This bizarre approach gets him and Ryanair a lot of free publicity. It is a genius way to do things, because it works.

Well O’Leary recently said some very interesting things that was reported by The Guardian and he isn’t getting much attention. It is odd because this is some of O’Leary’s craziest stuff ever: he wants Ryanair to improve in quality.

He told the Guardian that he feels Ryanair is maturing and with  growth, they need a new strategy and a new leader. O’Leary feels that the airline needs to talk more about what they can offer versus being the cheapest airline at all costs.

Whoa! What? Does that mean no more crazy rants? Well don’t get too excited, because even though he says he should leave, he also says he won’t leave until the airline doubles in size.

O’Leary stated, “When we are twice the size we are now, at around 400 aircraft, then the growth rate slows down to 2% or 3% per year. The shareholders will want a return. You will need a different management then. We won’t need my dog and pony show, which is about generating publicity. Every company has to move from being the high-growth Robin Hood.”

Well, at least he knows his shenanigans is just a show.

Ryanair has already been moving into larger airports and away from their small airport game plan. They say they want to bring up their image, but I am almost thinking they just want to bring up the price of a ticket and increase their profit.

Love Ryanair or hate them, they have a model that works. They can do almost whatever they want because they charge so little? Why change something that works? If they move out of the crazy realm, I am sure other airlines would be more than happy to step up.

Image: Drewski2112

Standing Seats are NOT Coming to a Ryanair Plane Near You

I doubt these yellow RyanAir seats will be taken out for stand up seats anytime soon

I doubt these yellow Ryanair seats will be taken out for stand up seats anytime soon

I debated if I should even blog about this, but figured why not?

Ryanair is out there running its (genius) PR machine again. It doesn’t matter how many times Ryanair says something the media will pick it up and treat it like fact. I love Ryanair’s ability to consistently do this and especially with a topic that has already been picked up previously. They will talk about some radical money-saving scheme (ie paid toilets) and then it never happens. Yet passengers get the idea that Ryanair is willing to do almost anything to save passengers money and look to them for the cheapest ticket possible, while Ryanair gets tons of free publicity. Like their PR strategy or hate it, at least it works (and I know I am guilty of helping them out).

Anyhow, Ryanair is at it again saying they are looking to provide uber low fares on stand up seats, but Boeing is saying no way. Aubrey Cohen with the Seattle PI quotes Boeing as saying, “We are not considering standing-only accommodations, nor do we have any plans to do so. Among other things, stringent regulatory requirements — including seats capable of withstanding a force of 16 Gs — pretty much preclude such an arrangement.”

Even though I don’t think it is that crazy of an idea to offer stand-seating in the future, I doubt we will be seeing them anytime soon. Many short-hop flights from 30-90 minutes could be done standing up. Think of riding a full bus or train and seeing people having to stand for longer periods of time. Unlike a bus or train, an airplane under-goes much more force with take off and landing.

Even if standing seats did exist, would they make economical sense? Ryanair is saying they would charge as little as $6 for a standing seat. Adding extra seats, but reducing fares while having to haul around more weight doesn’t seem to make business sense. It would most likely be more cost effective just to keep the sitting seats and charge more.

Image: GetDown