No-frills airline Ryanair is looking east for new aircraft.
On Tuesday, Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary signed an agreement with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China to help the company develop its C919 twin-engine airliner. With the C919 Comac plans to challenge the Airbus/Boeing duopoly for single-aisle aircraft seating between 150 and 190 passengers.
Ryanair already operates 272 Boeing 737-800 but the high cost of future orders has sent the airline – one of the world’s biggest no-frills carriers – into China’s open arms.
Maiden flight for the C919 is anticipated some time in 2014.
In recent years, Boeing and Airbus have enjoyed almost total domination of the commercial airliner business, although companies such as Sukhoi, Embraer and Bombardier haven been nibbling at the pie.
But the advent of the C919 – which looks very much like the Airbus A320 it will compete with – should really shake things up.