Ireland's Ryanair is the latest carrier to seek out more Boeing 737 Max jets now that the Federal Aviation Administration has ended the 20-month grounding and a return to passenger service is in sight.
The infamous carrier just purchased 75 Boeing 737 Max 8200 aircraft to join its fleet, growing Ryanair's total order to 210 aircraft to be delivered by 2025. The 8200 variant is Boeing's high-density model of the Max, aimed at ultra-low-cost carriers like Ryanair to further maximize the jet's cost-saving economics by filling it with as many passengers as possible.
Ryanair is known for its tight planes and the Max 8200 will be no different as 197 seats will be jammed into the plane that normally seats less than 180. though CEO Michael O'Leary says it will have "more legroom."
It's essentially the same design as the Max 8 but requires an extra emergency exit door to accommodate the additional passengers.
As an all-Boeing 737 airline, Ryanair was an early supporter of the 737 Max, placing an order for 100 aircraft in December 2014 and upped its commitment over the years. The March 2019 grounding, however, prevented Ryanair from taking delivery of the jets just months before planned with some sitting built and painted at Boeing's Washington facilities but undelivered.
The Max 8200 aircraft has a current list price of $124.8 million with the total order valued at over $22 billion. Ryanair confirmed, however, that Boeing knocked the price down due to the grounding and will provide further compensation for the inconvenience.
Airlines are rushing to get their Max planes back in the air and receive their undelivered models to take advantage of the jet's cost savings, especially during the pandemic when every dollar counts. Ryanair is already famous for its extremely low fares while still turning a profit and an aircraft like the Max can further pad its margins.
"We hope to take delivery of at least 50 of these aircraft in 2021, subject to Boeing recovering its manufacturing output to deliver them," O'Leary said in a statement.
Economics over public opinion
While the two fatal crashes have turned public sentiment against the aircraft, airlines are clearly seeing dollar signs as the economic benefits of the jet are outweighing customer misgivings after the deaths of 346 passengers.
Alaska Airlines officially announced an order for 13 737 Max 9 aircraft in November and Southwest Airlines is reportedly in talks to purchase up to 30 "white-tail" jets that were built but never delivered to a customer. Delta Air Lines doesn't currently operate the aircraft but has reportedly considering adding the aircraft to its fleet, CEO Ed Bastian told the Financial Times.
All US airlines flying the jet have vowed to let uncomfortable passengers change their flight to avoid flying on it. American Airlines will open the jet up for customer tours and will operate flights to nowhere for employees so workers too can feel comfortable on the plane.
Business Insider's David Slotnick was among the first passengers on the aircraft's first flight with members of the public on Wednesday. American brought members of the media to its maintenance base in Tulsa, Oklahoma for an inside look at how the fleet will be returned to service in advance of its relaunch on December 29.
Ryanair will begin taking delivery of its new Max planes in spring 2021 through December 2024.
This story originally appeared on Markets Insider.
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