Boeing launched on Monday a new version of its most successful airplane, the 737, with an $11 billion order from Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low-cost airline, which plans to buy as many as 200 737 MAX 200 twinjets. A statement from the Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA) said Ryanair placed an order for 100 airplanes and has options to purchase another 100.
The MAX 200 will seat as many as 200 passengers. It will feature the same size fuselage at the 737-800, but will allow for increased seating thanks to an extra emergency exit, which lets airlines put in more seats by making the evacuation of more passengers in an emergency possible. According to Boeing, the new plane will burn 20 percent less fuel per seat than the current most efficient single-aisle airplanes.
Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary said in a statement that, with the new order, the airline plans to operate 520 aircraft by 2024 and create 3,000 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers in Europe. Ryanair is the biggest operator of the Boeing 737 in Europe and the second-biggest in the world after U.S.-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE:LUV).
The 737 MAX is a re-engined version, with other improvements, of the current 737 family, and will feature three basic models: the MAX 7, MAX 8 and MAX 9, in order of size. They are based on the current 737-700, 800 and 900 models, and will carry a possible 220 passengers over a range of 3,800 nautical miles (7,000 km). The MAX 200 will essentially be a larger-capacity MAX 8.
The first flight of a 737 MAX is scheduled for 2016, Boeing said, with deliveries to customers beginning in 2017. Customers have ordered 2,239 of the new airplanes to date. The 737 MAX’s direct competitor, the Airbus A320neo, which was launched earlier than the Boeing model, is scheduled for a first flight this month and has already garnered more than 3,000 orders.