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Journal of nicholas (3034)

Saturday June 06, 2009
04:05 PM

David O'Leary talking bullshit

[ #39086 ]

Mr O'Bastard has been getting lots of free press coverage about his plans to charge for the toilet on Ryanair. In particular, he's suggesting that it will allow him to cut toilet use, and thereby permit him to remove two toilets from his planes, add 6 more seats, and "cut fares"*.

Now, what no-one seems to be asking, and what I can't find online, are whether there are regulations for airline toilets, either for numbers, or accessibility. There does seem to be a FAA regulation for 1 cabin attendant per 50 passengers, but I can't spot anything for toilets, for either side of the Atlantic.

However, if I believe everything I read on the Internet, I believe I have evidence that he is at least talking bullshit on the 6 extra seats. spinne notes that you need to certify an aircraft for the number of passengers, and certification is an expensive business. As best I can find on the internet, the maximum in-use configuration of an 737-800 is 189, which is what Ryanair use. However, a bit of thinking about the necessarily fixed position of the overwing exit rows, and the seat pitch, suggests that on the current toilet configuration you can't get any more seats in without squeezing 16 rows in the place of 15, which probably isn't viable, suggesting that no airline could fly a 737-800 with 195 seats, so it's never been certified. That doesn't ground the idea. But this does:

Because the -900 retains the same exit configuration of the -800, seating capacity is limited to 177 seats in two classes, or 189 in a single-class layout.

An additional pair of exit doors and a flat rear pressure bulkhead increase seating capacity to 180 passengers in a 2-class configuration or 215 passengers in a single-class layout.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_737#737-900

So, unless Rynair is thinking about cutting some holes in the fuselage and installing extra exits, it looks like the huffing and puffing about extra rows of seats is merely hot air. Note that this doesn't stop them trying to charge for the toilets. However, instead of spending money talking to Boeing about custom toilet units with credit card readers [£5 minimum charge, anyone? Will they authorising online, or will it be under the "floor limit", so fraudulent cards will be their problem? :-)] as their spin suggests (and people fell for), they might adopt some existing practice as the Wikipedia article on airline lavatories(!) describes:

Recently, many regional airlines in North America have commenced the trend of eliminating the refilling of hand washing basin potable water tanks in order to reduce weight and reduce labor service costs, thus generating increased airline profits derived through added fuel savings due to reduction of aircraft weight and employee labor expenses[citation needed]. To facilitate sanitation, disinfectant hand-wipes are provided.

Lest I forget, I noticed something else on my travels. (No citation, sorry). Rynair is talking about buying more planes, and suggests that buying from Airbus is within the bounds of possibility - i.e. no, Boeing, do not assume that you can charge us lock-in prices. Airbus, somewhere else, were quoted as saying something to the effect of "no, we're not going to bother tendering to supply Ryanair, as they'll demand an excessive discount". Because you're worth it - not.

* We thank Big Bastard for raising the chocolate ration to 20g. I can't see the full article, but the FT reports that in 2007 rising airfares helped Ryanair, Europe's leading low cost airline, increase profits sharply in its third quarter and raise its profit forecasts for the full year. That's not the direction the airline would like you to think that the fares are headed.

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  • "eliminating the refilling of hand washing basin potable water tanks in order to reduce weight and reduce labor service costs, thus generating increased airline profits derived through added fuel savings due to reduction of aircraft weight"

    It is called over-optimization :)