Fitting 197 passengers is still crowded, but the focus on providing some extra legroom is an important change for the Ryanair mindset. We wonder what the airline is hiding behind the "curtain" remark.
When Boeing confirmed the previously rumored giant order for a total of 200 new Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft, we wondered whether frugal Ryanair might capitalize on the aircraft’s maximum capacity of two hundred passengers.
It’s a pleasant surprise to learn that the airline won’t put quite that many of us on the plane, leaving a little more room for each passenger instead.
Both Boeing and Ryanair have now confirmed that the passenger capacity on the new 737 MAX 200s will be 197 persons. While that’s still eight more passengers that its current 737-800s, it is three fewer seats than the aircraft could conceivably fit on board. Removing three seats from an aircraft may not seem like a lot, but every inch counts in the cabin. Ryanair has confirmed that it will also install slimline seats which provide leave more leg room—an average of 30 inches of legroom per passenger, the airline states.
Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary emphasizes the passenger benefits of these new aircraft, saying in a statement:
“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 200 aircraft to grow at many more of Europe’s primary airports.”
The airline’s recent push to turn around its corporate image, by developing custom family and business products, raised the question of whether Ryanair would introduce a new Business Class product into the aircraft, and whether they might introduce a new interior to retrofit on existing aircraft.
A representative for Ryanair tells Skift: “Ryanair has no plans at present to retrofit or introduce curtains for Business Class.” It’s a curious reply—we never asked about curtains. Ryanair could be leaving some room for other customisation for Business passengers, like a few extra inches of legroom—but we’ll have to wait until the airline is ready to give more details on its cabin to find out.
We do know about some improvements already. The 737 MAX 200 provides passengers many comfort features characteristic of the Boeing Dreamliner interior, which enhances the passenger experience through: better cabin climate controls, modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness, and larger pivoting overhead stowage bins.
Ryanair made clear to Skift that it has no plans to introduce in-flight connectivity on these new aircraft: “We will always look at improving our customer experience,” a Representative said, “but have yet to find a viable cost-effective Wi-Fi solution.”
The Dublin-based carrier signed the agreement for these new aircraft on the day before it takes delivery of the first of an additional 180 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft on order. Ryanair states in its announcement:
The current 180 aircraft order will see Ryanair’s fleet grow from 304 to 420 (allowing for lease returns), and traffic rise from 82m last year to over 112m by 2019. Becoming the lead operator for the Boeing 737 MAX 200 aircraft secures Ryanair’s future growth during the period 2019 to 2024 in which Ryanair’s fleet will rise to 520 aircraft (allowing for sales and lease returns) while traffic almost doubles from 82m in FY2014 to 150m passengers p.a. by FY2024.
Boeing has provided this infographic, illustrating the benefits of the 737 MAX 200 concept to airlines and passengers alike.
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Photo credit: Ryanair 737-MAX 8 Artwork Ryanair