The Boeing 737 MAX 200 was meant to be a gamechanger. With increased seating and improved efficiencies, it planned to rival the 737 MAX 8 for the low-cost market. However, six years since its launch, the aircraft is not in our skies. Why?
The Boeing 737 MAX 200
The Boeing 737 MAX 200 first came about in 2014. The aircraft was launched in September by the airframer as an upgrade to the 737 MAX 8. Rather than offering between 162 to 178 seats, the 737 MAX 200 was meant to have 200 seats. It was what seemed like the perfect solution to reducing operating costs.
Ryanair was the launch customer for the aircraft and is so far thought to be the only airline to have placed an order. On September 8th, 2014, the Irish carrier placed an order for 100 of the model. It was due to enter into service in April 2019; however, it has since been delayed.
At present, Ryanair has a firm order of 135 Max 200s and another 75 options. Though the aircraft can seat up to 200 passengers, Ryanair has opted for a slightly reduced capacity. It will offer 197 seats across a single class. However, that doesn’t make the aircraft any less of a significant investment.
Why does Ryanair want the 737 MAX 200?
The benefit of the MAX 200 is in its seat density. By placing more seats in the same amount of space, Boeing can reduce the cost per seat. It says that this makes the MAX 200 20% more cost-effective than other 737 models.
That, in turn, translates in other cost savings across the board. The MAX 200 offers a 5% reduced operating cost in comparison to the MAX 8 as well as 20% better fuel efficiency per seat. Essentially the aircraft is a no-brainer for those working in the low-cost market.
And, it’s in this sector where the airframer really hopes to see demand increase. Boeing had predicted that the aircraft would make up 35% of single-aisle aircraft capacity in as little as 13 years.
Having invested $11bn in purchasing the aircraft, Ryanair clearly thinks so too.
Where is the 737 MAX 200?
So, if the MAX 200 is so popular, why don’t we see it in our skies? Sadly, its everything to do with a series of very unfortunate events.
The grounding of the MAX 8 aircraft put a stop to deliveries of the MAX 200. As a result of this, Ryanair had claimed that it wouldn’t operate its first MAX 200 until April or May 2020. However, the travel slump and ill-effects of the pandemic sweeping through the airline industry now means that the aircraft has been further delayed.
Speaking back in February 2020 to AIN Online, CEO of Ryanair Michael O’Leary said,
“It is now likely that our first MAX aircraft will not deliver until September or October 2020. We are now running one year behind the original delivery schedule. We had hoped to have 55 aircraft in the fleet for the summer of 2020. We’ll have none.”
For all its merits, it is unclear when the aircraft will be delivered to Ryanair, but one can only assume it will coincide with the recertification of the 737 MAX that is currently grounded. That said, recent developments forecast that high-density aircraft are not well-suited to the market at the moment.
What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.