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 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.