European low-cost carrier Ryanair has entered “early negotiations” to order 200 to 300 new Boeing 737-800s or Airbus A320-series airliners in the coming two years. The equipment, which includes replacement capacity, would support continued expansion during the 2012 to 2017 timeframe, with Ryanair potentially benefiting from any decline in aircraft prices during the current recession.
The Dublin-based operator told AIN that by the end of March it will be flying 195 Boeing 737-800s, with firm orders (after accounting for planned aircraft disposals) for a further 70 scheduled for delivery over the next four years. Ryanair carried almost 58 million passengers last year, about 18 percent more than in the previous year.
Raising the spectre of a possible move to a mixed fleet of aircraft through acquisition of Airbus equipment, the low-cost carrier has claimed its future growth will prove sufficient to support two types. Ryanair can sustain overall growth by continually opening routes to new destinations or raising service frequency to existing points. It currently offers two-way service on more than 400 routes. The move echoes earlier deals when it placed orders in 2002 and 2003 to take advantage of recession-driven price softening.