A Ryanair 737 taxis for a test flight at Boeing Field – Photo: Andrew W. Sieber | FlickerCC
Ryanair might soon start trans-Atlantic flights, but what does it mean?
At face value, this may seem like an earthshaking headline; after all, Ryanair has been either threatening or strongly implying that they will fly from various European airports to the United States.
But again, the truth is always in the details. Yes, Ryanair will be arriving on U.S. soil, but not tomorrow — not even next year. You see, the exact wording of the approval came in the form as part of their five-year plan.
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 – Photo: Steven Paduchak
That’s right, people, it happened! Last weekend, I flew Ryanair with my buddy Dan. It was a quick weekend getaway from Frankfurt to London. We’re here in Germany on a semester abroad, and neither of us had been to the United Kingdom. Before coming over “the pond”, we knew it was on the list of places to visit.
It all started on a Wednesday afternoon. We booked the trip a few weeks prior, and we were counting down the days. We all know Ryanair. They’re known for having the cheapest airfare in the industry; making the airline beloved here in all of Europe. The Dublin-based air carrier offered us each a forty euro (yes, you read that right) roundtrip from Frankfurt to London. That’s a huge deal, flying between two major European markets.
I knew after a deal this unbelievable, there’d be some sort of catch. In the end, there definitely was. Left and right, we were advised we had to pay for everything; printing off boarding passes, seat selection, food, etc… Being cautious of something like this, we came well prepared with food and boarding passes already printed off, so we managed to avoid all the imposed fees.
The day finally came, and we were on our way. To our surprise, however, the airport we flew out of was FOREVER away. It was one of the biggest catches we didn’t realize until our journey. The airline flies into the smaller and medium-sized airports in order to avoid the hefty landing fees imposed by the major international locations. This is completely understandable – we all want to save money whenever we can, right?
Ryanair 737 MAX 200, based upon MAX 8 airframe – Image: Boeing
Boeing and Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair announced this morning that Ryanair will be the launch customer for the Boeing 737 MAX 200. The order, good for 100 firm orders and 100 options, will solidify Ryanair’s status as an all-737 operator.
What does the “200” stand for? Well, that’s 200 seats, in a modified 737 MAX 8 airframe. Although Ryanair has decided to configure their aircraft with 197 seats, which is eight more than their current 737-800s. The increase in seats is afforded by the addition of the mid-exit door.
Rendering of Boeing 737 MAX 200 airframe – Image: Boeing
“These new “gamechanger” aircraft will allow Ryanair to lower our costs and airfares, while improving our customer experience with more leg room and the Boeing Sky Interior, as we roll out new offers, particularly for our Business Plus and Family Extra customers. As many of Europe’s flag carriers cut capacity on short haul routes, Ryanair looks forward to using these new Boeing 737 MAX 200s to grow at many more of Europe’s primary airports,” said O’Leary.
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: