What If Ryanair Offered Transatlantic Flights?

Ryanair has seen some amazing growth in the last decade and can take its passengers to some fairly exotic and distant destinations. Currently, Ryanair flies as far east as eastern Ukraine in the north and Lebanon, Jordan and Israel to the south. On the other side, in the west, we see the airline is flying as far west as the Azores archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. With Ryanair set to operate a high-capacity version of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, what would transatlantic flights look like?

Boeing 737 MAX Fund
Ryanair was expecting their first MAXs in April. Photo: Boeing

The aircraft

If you didn’t already know, Ryanair will be operating a special high-capacity, high-density version of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. This aircraft goes by the name 737 MAX 200, or 737-8-200. As you might imagine, carrying more passengers means more weight and, as a result, less range.

The range of the 737 MAX 8 is 3,550 nautical miles. However, according to FlightGlobal, the range of the 8-200 is only 2,700 nautical miles. This, unfortunately, significantly reduces how far into North America Ryanair could potentially take its passengers.

Destinations

If we use the fantastic mapping tool provided by Great Circle Mapper and input the 2,700nm range of the 737 MAX 200, we can see that a Ryanair flight could cross the Atlantic from airports like Dublin or London Stansted. However, the aircraft doesn’t get too far due to its high-capacity seating configuration.

From Dublin, only cities on the Canadian East Coast are within reach. These include:

  • Halifax, Nova Scotia
  • St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island

These are some great places to visit (more so in the summertime). Unfortunately, more diverse and exotic locales (no offense to our East Coast Canadian readers) such as Quebec City and Montreal are just out of reach.

 

What If Ryanair Offered Transatlantic Flights?
737 MAX 200 Range from Dublin. Photo: GCMaps

The flight experience: “a true nightmare”

The seat map, according to The Points Guy, is labeled a “true nightmare”. Of course, when you squeeze 200 passengers on to an aircraft of this size, you will have to make sacrifices to seat width and pitch. We’re talking as low as 28 inches for pitch!

In fact, back in May 2017, there were leaks that American Airlines had plans to install 29-inch pitch on its new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. However, the backlash was so bad that the airline relented, installing a 30-inch pitch in its standard economy.

As for lavatories, there are three tiny bathrooms for Ryanair’s 197-200 passengers. Two of these will be squeezed into the aircraft’s back galley.

Ryanair Sky interior
Are you ready to endure five to six hours in this cabin? Photo: Ryanair

We couldn’t – and wouldn’t – expect anything extra from Ryanair in terms of inflight entertainment or included inflight meals. Be prepared to pay for a tiny sandwich or bring your own food.

Looking at current WestJet flights for Halifax-Dublin and Halifax-London Gatwick, we can see that passengers would have to endure these conditions for a while. Flying Dublin to Halifax we would see flight times of five to five and a half hours. Going from London, this is more like five and a half to six hours. Could you do it? Would you want to?

Conclusion

Ryanair Boeing 737
Ryanair has one of the highest load factors in the industry – an average load factor of 95%. Photo: Wikimedia.

Unfortunately, because of Ryanair’s high-capacity variant, the airline would not really be competing with the likes of JetBlue or Norwegian. If Ryanair were to switch up some of their -200s for the standard MAX 8, the story would be completely different, with major U.S. cities on the east coast within reach. Perhaps this will be the topic of another article!

Really, the only competition for these maritime capital cities is Canadian airline WestJet – which really only flies to London Gatwick and Dublin from Halifax with its Boeing 737-700 aircraft. At least with WestJet you’re getting as much as five more inches of seat pitch!

To me, these destinations don’t seem very appealing to Europeans. On the Canadian side, it doesn’t seem like there would be enough demand from these smaller cities. At best this could perhaps be a seasonal route in the summer. Perhaps with the right marketing, Ryanair could create enough demand for some of these routes?

If Ryanair flew to Atlantic Canada would you take the 5.5-hour journey for the right price?

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