Ryanair presses for 200-seat Max 8

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Ryanair continues to push Boeing to offer a 200-seat configuration of the 737 Max 8, and has mooted the reducing the number of onboard toilets as a means of achieving this.

"It’s very public knowledge we’d be interested in 200-seater aircraft," says the Irish budget carrier's deputy chief executive Howard Millar. "This is part of our discussions [with Boeing]."

Adding 11 seats to the 189-seat capacity of Ryanair's current 737s would help “reduce unit costs by another couple of per cent” while allowing the airline to “keep the existing four cabin crew per aircraft”, says Millar. Regulations stipulate that the ratio of seats to flight attendants must not exceed 50:1.

Millar says Ryanair is “pleased with what we’ve found so far" in its evaluation of the Max. "We believe that the Max at current fuel prices could save something close to 13%," he says. Any order for the re-engined narrowbody would be additional to the 175 737-800s ordered in June, and the Max deliveries would follow after the last of those 175 is handed over in 2019.

Ryanair is “trying to work in a creative way with Boeing to gain additional seats”, says Millar, adding that reducing the number of toilets “is one of a number of options”. However, he stresses the airline's wish to “maintain passenger comfort”.

Another member of Boeing's 737 family, the 737-900ER, is already capable of accommodating up to 215 passengers. However, Ryanair has rejected this option in the past on the grounds that it would be inefficient to operate the aircraft below maximum capacity.