June 19, 2013
Credit: Keith Gaskell
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary hopes to finalize a deal for more than 200 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft before the end of the year, he said on the sidelines of the Paris air show. While he would not specify the exact number of aircraft he is looking at, he said that “if it is not 200-plus, then it is not worth doing.”
Ryanair expects talks on specifics of a potential deal to stretch out until the end of September before final negotiations are started.
The MAX deal is preceded by an order for 175 Boeing 737-800s, which the airline firmed up today following board approval. The aircraft will arrive in the 2014-2018 timeframe and are strategically important to Boeing because the large order will help ease the transition from the NG to the MAX, which will now become available in the third quarter of 2017, six months earlier than previously planned.
O’Leary said the prices paid for the 737s were higher than in the previous large order in 2005, but did not reveal more details.
Ryanair plans to grow its fleet from around 300 aircraft today to 400 in 2018. Of the 175 additional 737s, 100 will be used for expansion and 75 will replace older aircraft. O’Leary said one of the most important aspects of the -800 is that it can hold more seats than the Airbus A320. “Boeing don’t get enough credit for the phenomenal success of Ryanair,” O’Leary said.
While he has earlier expressed an interest in the Comac C919, he now argues that aircraft is actually too small for the airline. However, he would look again at it once Comac introduced a stretched version, planned to enter service some time early in the next decade.
“It would be good to have three competitors,” he said.
On Tuesday, fellow European low-cost carrier Easyjet ordered 100 A320NEOs and 35 A320s.