Ryanair agreed to buy as many as 200 Boeing 737 Max jets valued at $22 billion at list price after pushing the planemaker to develop a new version that squeezes in more seats.
The airline placed a firm order for 100 aircraft and added options for the same amount of the narrow-body plane, which will feature upgraded engines, wings and 197 seats, it said. The deal will expand Ryanair’s fleet to 520 aircraft from about 300 today, allowing the carrier to fly 150 million customers by the middle of next decade.
The order caps a lengthy review by the airline of potential fuel and costs savings to be reaped from the newest Boeing 737. At the behest of chief executive officer Michael O’Leary, Boeing said in July it would build a variant of its Max 8 that could carry more passengers to boost operating efficiency.
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“These new ’game-changer’ aircraft will allow Ryanair to lower our costs and airfares,” O’Leary said. “As many of Europe’s flag carriers cut capacity on short haul routes, Ryanair looks forward to using these new Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft to grow at many more of Europe’s primary airports.”
The deal also would cement Boeing’s ties to Ryanair, which flies only the 737. The airline concluded a deal for 175 current-generation 737-800s in June 2013 and added five more in April as part of its expansion to meet rising demand for short-haul flights.
Max 8 Model
Competing with discounters such as EasyJet, Ryanair is revamping its network and seeking to shed its no-frills reputation through measures such as assigned seating, designed to appeal to business travelers. The company has added routes toward a goal of flying 110 million passengers by 2019, up from a projected 84.6 million this year.
The Max 8, the first of three redesigned 737 models, will be outfitted with new engines from a General Electric Co. joint venture and more aerodynamic wings. The plane lists for $106.9 million before the discounts that are customary in plane orders. Boeing hasn’t given a price for the higher-capacity model.
Bloomberg News, edited by Hospitality Ireland