The Dublin-based budget airline Ryanair announced in early September the purchase of 100 new models of Boeing’s 737, with an option to purchase 100 more. The deal is valued at over $22 billion. Ryanair is the first airline to buy the new aircraft, according to The New York Times.
Boeing’s new 737s are designed to fit even more passengers in the single-aisle frame – where the existing maximum is 189, the so-called 737 Max 200, will, per its title, be able to accommodate (or squeeze) up to 11 more passengers. Ryanair, however, will only be adding eight seats, avoiding the cost of adding an additional exit door and crew member that would be required if the full seating capacity was utilized. According to Ryanair, it will do so by using less-bulky seats that do not recline and eliminating the front and rear galleys.
But, while you may be appropriately concerned about the legroom, already a persistent cause for concern among flyers of Europe’s budget airlines, Michael O’Leary said that’s not the case, calling the new planes a “gamechanger.” He said they “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,” according to The Irish Independent. The current average legroom on Ryanair planes is 30 inches.
When the 737 Maxes were announced in July of this year, Boeing’s CEO Raymond L. Conner said that they would reduce airline operating costs by five percent, a savings that Ryanair hopes to pass on to its customers. “My hope is that it will hasten an era of a new price war in Europe, which, like all the old price wars, Ryanair will win,” O’Leary said. Let’s hope our knees do too.