The low-cost giant is hoping to take advantage of the weakening commercial aerospace market. It is also hoping to repeat a similar tactic when it ordered 100 aircraft and another 50 options in January 2002, near the bottom of the last aviation recession following the attacks of September 11th and the SARS epidemic.It was the biggest order Boeing ever received for its 737 jets. In return Ryanair secured one of the largest discounts agreed by the Boeing.
In the last downturn easyJet also secured heavy discounts from Airbus to switch from an all-Boeing fleet.
Michael Cawley, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer for Ryanair, told the Financial Times that he expected the group to place the order with 18-24 months.
Ryanair is midway through a plan to double its fleet and passenger numbers between 2007 and 2012. Passenger volumes are scheduled to grow from 43m in the year to March 2007 to 87m in the year to March 2012, when Ryanair will have become the biggest short-haul carrier in Europe.
Mr Cawley said that due to the size of the order, Ryanair would be happy to move to a mixed Airbus/Boeing fleet. The potential order would spark a fierce bidding war between the two aviation giants, which are facing plummeting orders amid the current downturn.