Michael O’Leary got his airplane.
Boeing today announced it will offer a 200-seat version of the 737-8, all but assuring that O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, will become a customer of the MAX model. O’Leary has yet to order the MAX and has been pushing Boeing for some time to expand the capacity of the 737 to 199 passengers, one shy of the 200 that would require another flight attendant.
Just as Airbus previously announced revisions to the interiors of the A320 andA321 to push to 189 and 240 passengers respectively, Boeing had been studying similar changes.
O’Leary up to this point has ordered only the 737-800, which can seat a maximum of 189 passengers. It doesn’t appear Boeing will offer the 800 in a 200 seat configuration. We believe this will drive O’Leary to the 737-8.
Boeing’s change retains a seat advantage over the A320 high density version, a critical component to Boeing’s persistent claim of having an 8% per seat operating cost advantage over the A320. In typical configuration, the 737 seats 162 passengers to the A320’s 150, though Airbus claims the difference is 157 to 153. No matter: the seating games, claims and counter-claims will continue.
The 737-8/200 will follow introduction into the standard 737-8/189, which is scheduled to enter service in July 2017 with Southwest Airlines. The Higher Density model will have a 29 inch seat pitch compared with 31-32 for the standard density model.
An additional emergency exit is required for the HD version.