Ryanair CEO details Chinese, Stansted interests

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Published: August 8, 2012

Ryanair 737-800. By Rob Finlayson

Ryanair (FR) says Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) is looking at potential modifications that the Irish low-cost carrier (LCC) would like to see in the C919 single-aisle jet.

The LCC has been in talks with COMAC for some time over the possibility of ordering the 180-seat twinjet, although it would have to be stretched slightly to hit FR’s sweet spot of a 199-seat airliner ( ATW Daily News, Sept. 22, 2011 ).

The Irish carrier operates solely Boeing 737s. The C919 is due to enter service toward the end of the decade.

“We continue to work with the Chinese, even though it’s a long-term thing,” FR deputy CEO and CFO Howard Millar said in London.

“We find them very interesting and they’re willing to listen to what we want. For example, we asked whether they could make the aircraft’s doorways wider so two people could walk through them simultaneously, to help with our turnaround times. They’re looking into that.”

Millar added that FR had been approached by several consortia interested in taking over London Stansted Airport (STN).

Airport owner BAA has been ordered by the UK’s competition authorities to sell STN, which largely handles LCC traffic. BAA last month lost the latest in a series of appeals against the decision, but has said it will now appeal to the UK Supreme Court ( ATW Daily News, July 26 ).

The consortia “want us as an ‘anchor tenant,’ ” Millar said. FR had told its suitors it would in principle be prepared to join one, to grow its capacity there, in return for a deal on costs. FR has complained for some time over BAA’s charges at STN.

FR would be interested in taking a 25% stake in STN, Millar said. “We haven’t decided if we would partner with anyone, but we think it’s a very exciting opportunity and think it would be very good for the UK if another runway was opened up at STN.”

The airport, some 35 miles northeast of London, has a single runway; plans for a second runway were dropped by BAA after the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition came to power in spring 2010 and voiced its opposition to the scheme ( ATW Daily News, May 17, 2010 ).

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