Ryanair offers scathing verdict on 737 Max

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Outspoken Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has offered a scathing verdict on Boeing's 737 Max, describing the re-engined narrowbody as a "dog's dinner of a design" that had been drawn "on the back of a fag packet as a response to the [Airbus] Neo".

Although talks "are ongoing" with the airframer about future orders of either the Max or current generation 737-800s, he complained "Boeing can't tell you what the Max looks like or what the fuel saving is".

An additional stumbling block is the carrier's concept for a standing-only area on its flights, raising capacity to 230 passengers from 189 on an all-seated aircraft. This would require the removal of the rear lavatories and final six rows of seats in the 737. "We won't place any new order until they [Boeing] come up with a fix for this issue," said O'Leary.

In the meantime Ryanair has approached an undisclosed aviation regulator with a view to trialling standing-area flights, but has received "no positive response".

Ryanair is still condsidering ordering the Comac C919, added O'Leary, and has a design team working with the Chinese airframer toward a 200-seat variant of the baseline 174-seat aircraft in the 2018-19 timeframe. Airbus was not currently in the running, he said.

Meanwhile, he criticised the UK government's lack of a clear policy towards the aviation sector and said it was damaging the UK's competitiveness. Since Airline Passenger Duty was introduced in 2007, UK passenger numbers have fallen by 20%, said O'Leary.

He called for the government to "stop pandering to the idiot environmentalists and even less sensible Nimbys" and add extra runways at London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted as these airports are already served by existing public transport and road infrastructure. Seeking to construct a new airport in "the estuary of Boris [Johnson's] imagination" with no road or rail links for delivery in 30 years time was, he said "complete and utter bloody lunacy even by Boris's standards".