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Ryanair's genius idea: Build aircraft with wider doors
The "pile-'em-high-sell-'em-cheap" Irish carrier looks to China for a boarding solution
Ryanair let on to the Guardian this week that a Chinese company is currently designing a prototype aircraft to help the budget airline push forward its dream of cost-saving.
The bespoke jet is expected to have extra-wide doors, and is designed by the state-run Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), best known for its narrow-body C919.
"We want two people to walk through the door [side by side]," said Howard Millar, Ryanair's deputy chief executive. "If the door is wider you can load people on and off the aircraft quicker.
"We want a low-cost plane that suits our business model."
Millar pointed out that faster turnarounds were fundamental to any low-cost carriers.
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The bigger-doors scheme comes in the wake of Ryanair's 2012 Q1 business report, which showed the carrier's profit fell nearly 30 percent, from €139 million to €99 million, compared to the same period last year. The airline said this was mainly due to the rise in the cost of fuel.
Joint effort on China's C919
Ryanair announced last summer it planned to work with Comac on the development of a 200-seat C919 (the current design holds up to 168 passengers). The wide-door design seems to be part of the new proposals.
Apart from more seats and double-size entrances, Ryanair has flagged other needs to Comac, such as smaller galleys and a remodeled hold.
However, there is no mention on tweaking the aisles, which are usually the cause of the passenger clog-up.
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The 200-seat model is due to start flying commercially in 2018. It's unclear if the wider-door design will debut at the same time.
Comac to replace Boeing?
The Dublin-based carrier expressed strong interest in Comac's C919 after reportedly breaking off talks in 2010 with Boeing, Ryanair's traditional partner.
Some industry insiders suggested that Ryanair was considering buying more than 200 aircraft from Comac, but no confirmed order has been placed yet.
The irish short-haul carrier currently musters a fleet of 275 Boeing 737s.