In the event we are to believe the naysayers here at the Paris Air Show, Michael O’Leary and his airline are behaving like they are serious about the C919. The considered opinion among the considered in Paris is that Ryanair is playing a grand game to make Boeing blink. Airbus is less likely to blink given, shall we say, history.
As Mr O’Leary states in the linked article “….we remain in continuing discussions with both Boeing and now COMAC…” There is no mention of Airbus. And he goes on to say “…today’s announcement won’t affect our long standing relationship with Boeing…” Well what is it? A game of chicken?
COMAC has nothing to lose. Indeed, Mr O’Leary is apparently not a patient man and he is dealing with the most patient people in business. They will outlast and tire him. COMAC’s C919 is more likely to run late than say the MC-21. But IRKUT is not as hungry. COMAC obviously thinks they have manageable risk. Even if – and its likely – Ryanair stiffs them, they are likely to learn a lot about satisfying the most demanding LCC in the world.
The linked MOU is mainly fluff. We are comfortable that both sides know this. Actually everyone knows this. But Ryanair has thrown down a gauntlet to Boeing. This would be laughable under normal circumstances. No doubt there are lots of giggles among Team Boeing. However, it would behoove Boeing not to make too much fun. The Airbus neo is cleaning up in Paris. Even though Boeing has secured some 737 orders, it is not at the same level as neo orders. As of tonight we have 49 737s compared with 210 A320neo’s sold at the show. The market is speaking (shouting?).
The aviation world, especially airplane buyers, are growing frustrated waiting for Boeing to share a definitive vision on the future of its single aisle program. The 737 as we know it cannot go on forever.