PARIS, June 19 China's Comac could build a
larger version of its C919 aircraft in the early 2020s to tempt
airlines away from dominant global planemakers Airbus
and Boeing, the head of Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair
The first C919 model, carrying 174 passengers in a
high-density configuration, is due to reach Chinese customers
A second model with up to 200 passengers could interest
airlines outside China, however, Michael O'Leary said at the
Paris Airshow on Wednesday.
"The sweet spot is not 174 but as close to 199 or 200 that
you can get," said O'Leary.
Ryanair, which has an all-Boeing 737 fleet, signed a design
agreement with Comac two years ago to help produce a rival jet.
The Irish carrier does not operate any of European planemaker
Airbus' A320-family of single-aisle jets.
The CEO said the first C919 version would quickly become
"outdated" but added that Ryanair was working with the Chinese
company to develop a larger model as soon as possible.
Comac could benefit from new engine technology to be used on
the latest more fuel-efficient versions of Airbus and Boeing's
best-selling single-aisle planes, O'Leary added.
If delivered by the early 2020s, the plane would "put
pressure on Boeing and Airbus" and benefit airlines, he said.
"That will give us three credible suppliers by the early
2020s," he said.
Ryanair earlier on Wednesday signed a contract to buy 175
Boeing 737-800 jets, worth $15.6 billion at list prices, and
said it could order 200 or more Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by the
end of the year.