Already squeezed for space on many flights, economy class passengers may soon lose another two inches of legroom when the fly on no-frills airlines.
That comes after Boeing confirmed on Sunday that it's planning to offer a "modified" high-density version of its popular 737 that will seat up to 200 passengers -- 11 more than on the comparable current model of the 737. The high-density version of Boeing's 737 MAX8 jet will be targeted to bare bones, low-cost carriers that want to squeeze as many customers as they can onto their flights.
The Seattle Times writes "to make possible an extra 11 seats beyond the standard 189, Boeing will add an extra exit door just aft of the wing, the same one on the larger 737 MAX 9. That's needed to comply with safety regulations, to ensure that 200 people could exit quickly in an emergency."
And the The Wall Street Journal adds fliers "should expect less legroom as a result, as each seat will be spaced 29 inches apart, about 2 inches less than current economy seating."
It remains unclear when the first version of the high-density 737 might fly for an airline. Southwest's first 737 MAX 8 is set to go to Southwest Airlines in 2017, so the high-density version would come after that.
No airlines have yet to place an order, tough Boeing has said European low-cost giant Ryanair has been pushing it to offer such a high-density version of the jet.
Scott Hamilton, an industry analyst with Leeham.net, tells the Seattle Times Ryanair -- one of the world's largest operators of 737s -- is all but a lock to order the jet.
Conner confirmed to the Times that "(Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary) and I have talked about this since I've been in this job."
Reuters notes Boeing's move comes after "Airbus last month announced a similar drive to increase capacity on its A320 passenger jet family as airlines seek to drive down costs per seat. Planemakers compete aggressively for orders of single-aisle, medium-haul jets and are producing at record levels."
"When you're in the low-cost, low-fare business, you're always striving for that competitive advantage," John Wojick, Boeing's chief aircraft salesman, says in an interview with Bloomberg News.
Boeing tells Bloomberg he does not expect the high-density 737 MAX 8 to eat into sales of its bigger 737 MAX 9 jet, which is targeted more toward medium and long-haul routes than the short-haul-focused MAX 8.
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