Ryanair's $2bn order aims to double size of fleet

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The Independent Online
Ryanair, the low-cost Irish airline, yesterday unveiled plans to more than double the size of its fleet with a $2bn (pounds 1.2bn) order for new Boeing jets - the biggest in the carrier's 13-year history.

The new aircraft, due for delivery from 1999 onwards, will be used to expand Ryanair's route network as its steps up its operations in preparation for the launch of British Airways' own no-frills, low-cost carrier Go.

Ryanair, which floated on the Dublin and New York stock markets last year, is buying 25 Boeing 737-800 aircraft for use on its burgeoning European route network from Stansted airport. It has taken out options to buy a further 20 of the 189-seat aircraft.

Howard Millar, Ryanair's financial director, said the order would be financed partly through the airline's cash resources and partly through debt.

The aircraft will be delivered at a rate of five a year, enabling Ryanair to hit its target of increasing capacity by 25 per cent a year. Last year it 4 four million passengers with a fleet of 17 Boeing 737s and this year expects to carry 5 million. Six new routes to France, Italy and Sweden are being added to its 22 existing destinations this summer.

Mr Millar said Ryanair was in talks with 45 other airports about launching new routes. It is also in discussion with the Stock Exchange about a London listing but there were no plans for any equity issue.