Why Ryanair Thinks Its New 197 Seat Boeing 737 Planes Are Gamechanging

Ryanair has just taken delivery of its first 737 MAX 8-200 aircraft. This new aircraft has been delayed over two years, but Ryanair has big expectations for it. It will offer a higher passenger capacity than any 737 before and reduce carbon and noise emissions for the airline.

737 MAX 200 Ryanair
The new Ryanair 737 MAX 8-200. Photo: Luka Cvetkovic via Instagram (@euro_spotter)

Ryanair’s ‘gamechanger’ arrives

Ryanair has 210 of the new 737-8-200 aircraft on order with Boeing, worth over $22 billion. These are modified versions of the 737 MAX 8 and will join the Ryanair fleet of 737-800s over the coming years.

The first aircraft (with registration EI-HEN) was delivered from Boeing in Seattle direct to Dublin yesterday. This is some two years later than originally expected, but deliveries are now taking place with the MAX re-certified. This first aircraft is painted in Ryanair livery and is destined for the main airline.

More aircraft are following. Ryanair expects to take delivery of 12 MAX aircraft over this summer – half for Ryanair and half for subsidiary Malta Air. By summer 2022, the group plans to be flying 50 aircraft.

Ryanair 737 MAX 8-200
50 737 MAX 8-200 are expected by Summer 2020 – for Ryanair, Malta Air, and Buzz. Photo: Ryanair

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Taking capacity up to 197

The main modification to the Ryanair 737 MAX is the increased capacity. They are based on the same airframe as the MAX 8 but take passenger capacity up from around 178 to 197. For comparison, Southwest’s aircraft have 175 seats.

This is achieved with denser seating, three small toilets and the removal of some of the galley infrastructure.  In addition, the aircraft has an extra emergency exit added to accommodate the increased number of passengers.

737 MAX interior
The new 737 MAX interior. Photo: Ryanair

Additional seating is certainly gamechanging for the airline. Adding 4% more seats per aircraft will reduce prices – a major focus for any low-cost airline.

Whether it is really gamechaning for passengers remains to be seen. While Ryanair claims that passengers will “enjoy more legroom” over their current 737-800 aircraft, we will have to wait to see what the travel experience in a denser cabin is like.

Lower fuel consumption per seat and emissions

It is not just the additional capacity that stands out about the new aircraft, though. Ryanair claims that it will reduce fuel consumption by 16% per seat and lower carbon dioxide emissions by around 40%.

Ryanair currently operates a fleet of 250 737-800 aircraft. The MAX will improve on capacity and emissions. Photo: Getty Images.

This is important going forward as all airlines strive to lower their carbon footprint and meet ambitious targets set by the aviation industry. Ryanair has committed to reducing its emissions to below 60 grams of carbon dioxide per passenger kilometer by 2030 – 10% lower than its current rate. The gradual introduction of the MAX 8-200 will help achieve this.

It is also likely to become increasingly important for passengers to know they are traveling in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

Reduced noise emissions

Noise pollution is another area of concern. Ryanair claims that the MAX 8-200 will offer 40% lower noise emissions. This is achieved through both quieter engine operation from the next-generation engines and aircraft operating procedures adopted by Ryanair.

This includes using a single engine for taxiing and the use of continuous descent approaches (CDA). Ryanair achieved 100% CDA compliance at Stansted in 2019 and has set ambitious targets for this.

Ryanair 737-200
Ryanair retired the 737-200 in 2005. It claims the 737-800 reduced noise by 86%, and the MAX takes this further. Photo: Alexander Jonsson via Wikimedia

The arrival of Ryanair’s MAX aircraft has been awaited for some time. It is obviously a challenging time for all airlines, but do you think its new fleet of 210 high-capacity aircraft will achieve all its hopes? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.