LONDON – During the AviationSource Roundtable, Ryanair didn’t exactly rule out acquiring widebody aircraft going into the future.
The roundtable happened last night, with Ryanair’s Head of Communications, Jade Kirwan, and Stratview Research’s Deepak Agrawal present as special guests.
Never Say Never…
Editor-in-Chief and Roundtable mediator James Field asked the following question to Ms. Kirwan on the possibility of utilizing widebodies in the future:
Obviously, as demand continues to grow and grow, do you ever envisage there to be a Ryanair that has widebody aircraft? Your CEO, Michael O’Leary, has toyed with the idea over the last couple of years, but will this ever be a reality? Or will the airline stick with 737 MAX 200 Gamechanger aircraft moving forward?
Jade said the following on this:
“I suppose there is probably not a right or wrong answer to that question. Look, I would say, “never say never,” but it would all come down to optimization. Load factors are the important thing to look at for us as well as the volumes we would need to fill up aircraft, as well as what makes the most commercial sense”.
“At the moment, we have very decent load factors. I think we are at around 94% at the moment. This also needs to go in line with our sustainability factors and what is the most efficient to do. So I won’t put a rubber stamp on [needing widebodies] it”.
Would Ryanair Benefit from Widebody Aircraft?
It’s always an interesting question to ask, especially with the high level of commercial success that they have experienced over the years.
Acquiring widebody aircraft would represent a change in strategic thinking, and even more so costs as well, with Ryanair mainly operating a full-Boeing fleet.
Yes, they have some Airbus aircraft with their subsidiary Lauda, but for the most part, the 737 Family has been a successful tool for the Irish-low-cost carrier.
As Kirwan mentions, Ryanair has been operating at around 94% load factors, as opposed to 100%.
Whilst it is only a six percent difference, it is quite a major difference in itself. For Ryanair to require larger aircraft, they would need to be consistently hitting 100% load factors on every flight, which is a challenge in its own right.
Once they get to that stage, then that is probably when they can start thinking about utilizing widebody aircraft on popular routes.
And with the whole crux of low fares being the basis of the Ryanair family, adding more capacity through larger aircraft could potentially bring fares down lower, which would mean more of a turnover going into the future.
However, right now, it is safe to say that Ryanair will probably stick with the MAX 200 Gamechangers until travel demand intensifies even further than where it already is right now.
What we have noticed is that some low-cost carriers from around the world have been utilizing the Airbus A330neo. But again, this is wholly the capacity debate that is ongoing here.
With Ryanair not rejecting the idea flat-out about widebody aircraft, that does provide some insight into where potentially the Irish low-cost carrier can go next.
Offering a forecast of 225 million passengers by FY26, they are going to need the equipment, the routes, and, more importantly, the passengers to achieve that.
That being said, though, Ryanair is making significant gains to achieve that as the carrier has handled over 158m passengers in the last 12 months.
Overall, it is definitely a difficult question to answer about whether widebodies are needed for the carrier because right where they are at the moment, they are succeeding well under tough external factors.