PARIS: VIDEO - O’Leary breaks air-show boycott with 737 order

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Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary broke a personal boycott on air show attendance to confirm a $15.6 billion order - at list prices - for 175 Boeing 737-800s.

"It's a great pleasure to be here," said O'Leary, breaking his self-imposed, 25-year silence at industry trade shows, which, he complains, crawl with "aerosexuals".

No one appreciated the feisty Irish CEO's debut appearance at Le Bourget more than Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Ray Conner.

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"For Michael to make his first visit to an air show and be here is a tremendous statement for all of us," Conner says.

The contract signing completes an arduous, five-year saga of contract negotiations in which the Ryanair boss - and landmark Boeing customer - flirted with offers from the Airbus A320neo and the Comac C919. A Ryanair team is currently evaluating an order for at least 200 737 Max aircraft. O'Leary wants to sign the follow-on deal by the end of the year.

Ryanair prefers the 737-800 to the A320neo because it holds nine more seats in a single-class lay-out, O'Leary says.

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When Conner added that the 737 also is more fuel efficient, O'Leary interjected: "I actually disagree with that." The 737 and A320 come out about even on overall fuel efficiency, he says, but the 737-800 and 737 Max 8 are more fuel efficient per seat.

In fact, O'Leary wants Boeing to install still nine more seats in the Max 8, raising the total number to 199 or 200 and maximising the regulatory requirement to provide one flight attendant for every 50 passengers.

"That's a project that we would continue to try to encourage Boeing to work on," O'Leary says.

Conner responds that he still intends to introduce the 737 Max 8 in the third quarter of 2017 with the same number of seats as the 737-800. However, Conner says, Boeing will consider options to meet additional customer demands after the aircraft is introduced.


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