MIAMI — After breaking off talks 3 years ago in 2009 for a major order for new Boeing 737-800s, Boeing and Ryanair announced today an order for 175 of the next generation Boeing 737s in an agreement worth $15.6 billion at list prices. According to analysts, Ryanair has most likely agreed to pay less than $8 billion representing a 45%-50% discount off of list prices. This is the largest ever single order order for Boeing Commercial Aircraft from Europe. The Ultra LCC Irish airline already operates 305 737-800s in a high density 189 passenger seat configuration. Curiously, Ryanair opted not to go with the upcoming Boeing 737 Max, likely needing the capacity earlier then the Max’s 2017 EIS. According to Jason Rabinowitz, O’Leary says the new aircraft will be delivered between 2014-18 but there is a Ryanair team in place to evaluate the Max. O’Leary said that he expects to place an order this year “even though it’s 10 seats too small”. The controversial airline placed its first major order for new 737-800s back in 1998 when it ordered 45 of the aircraft as $2 billion. They took delivery of their first 737-800 in 1999 and their 300th in 2011. Though founded in 1985, the airline’s low cost operations came into focus in 1994 when it began operating the Boeing 737-200, which it did until 2005. Ryanair claims to operate the newest fleet in Europe with the average of its aircraft around 4 years old.
According to the Associated Press, Ryanair said O’Leary and Boeing chief executive Ray Conner signed the agreement Tuesday in New York made an announcement this morning at at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. NYCAviation co-editor Jason Rabinowitz on Twitter, reporting for Airline Reporter for live coverage noted Leary’s humorous comments “that I was drunk out the time when I ordered the planes” (referring to the price) and that “”Ms. O’Leary will have to cut back on the shopping while we pay for these airplanes.”
This announcement comes days after Boeing completed its first 737 built at the new 38 aircraft per month Renton plant with the lines surging to 42 per month sometime in 2014. There have been over 10,500 737s ordered since the first delivery 45 years ago, making the 737 the most successful jet airliner program in history. With this order, there are now over 1,574 737-800s on order alone. When other models such as the Max and 900 are factored in, the total number of the 737 backlog swells to over 2,800 aircraft. This is a massive order, but the recent orders from Southwest, Lion Air, and American for the 737 NG and 737-MAX have been larger.
Unsurprisingly, ill-timed questions came up about the 787’s ongoing issues to Boeing’s Ray Conner, which Leary defended as “a blip on the screen”.