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Miles flown for stories
2014: 345,636
2013: 330,818

Flight Review: “We Flew Right There, We Flew Ryanair!”

Ryanair Boeing 737 ready to be flown - Photo: Steven Paduchak

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?

Continue reading Flight Review: “We Flew Right There, We Flew Ryanair!”

Boeing and Ryanair Launch the 737 MAX 200

Ryanair 737 MAX 200, based upon MAX 8 airframe - Image: Boeing

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

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.

Continue reading Boeing and Ryanair Launch the 737 MAX 200

Up! Changing the Face of Israeli Aviation

A model of an Up 737-800.  Photo by El Al/Up Airlines

A model of an Up 737-800 – Photo: El Al/Up Airlines

Israel is not a large country. Because of this, domestic flying has never been of much importance. There are flights out of both Tel Aviv airports (TLV and SDV) to the resort town of Eilat, but even that is within driving distance. This fact has left Israel’s air travel market as one that focuses on flying to international destinations. Competition is heating up and El Al is planning to go head-on with a lower-cost version called Up.

Israel, though an extremely high-tech and growing economy, also has some market features that make it unique compared to equivalent countries in different climates. There is a gigantic Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) market. There is also a lot of business traffic traveling from Continental Europe on restrictive travel budgets. Realistically, most of the high-yield traffic comes from destinations in Northern Europe, North America, and Asia. British low-cost carrier easyJet is expanding its services to Tel Aviv at a seemingly unending rate. There is even talk of Easyjet competitor RyanAir starting Tel Aviv service this year.

Continue reading Up! Changing the Face of Israeli Aviation

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.

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