Ryanair expects to sign 737 Max deal by end-year

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Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair expects to sign a deal by the end of this year or early next year for more than 100 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, on top of today's agreement for 175 737-800s.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary confirmed the acquisition plans in a formal signing ceremony for the 737-800 commitment, which is still to be approved by Ryanair's shareholders, in New York with Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Ray Conner.

"It is very important to us to have Ryanair as an all-Boeing fleet," Conner says. "That is a big deal for us and we cherish that very much, and we will always fight to maintain that."

The order for the 737 Max is under evaluation by a new team formed within Ryanair, O'Leary says.

Its evaluation of the 737 Max marks a reversal for the Dublin-based carrier, whose chief executive has previously criticised the re-engined narrowbody as not large enough to meet the airline's needs.

O'Leary stands by his assessment of the 189-seat 737 Max 8, saying he still wishes the aircraft had an additional 10 seats.

The landing weight of the re-engined variant is heavier than the current-generation aircraft, increasing Ryanair's weight-based landing fees at European airports, O'Leary says.

He says he does not expect Boeing to add more seats as regulatory requirements prohibit removing the aircraft's two rear lavatories.

The discussions with Boeing appear to rule out alternative orders with Comac for the C919 and Airbus for its A320neo.