Changing times: Ryanair to fit split-scimitar winglets on 737-800s

Ryanair, Europe’s largest low-fares airline, announced last week that the company intends to invest over €200m in the retrofitting of its 408-strong fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft with the latest generation Split Scimitar winglets.

The Split Scimitars – which are becoming an ever more common sight around Europe and the USA – are estimated by Ryanair to provide a 1.5% reduction in fuel burn compared to aircraft fitted with the current winglets. Whilst the airline has not offered a timescale for the completion of the retrofit work, it has confirmed that the first aircraft will be fitted with the new winglets during the winter season, ahead of its summer 2023 schedule, which will include its “biggest ever” operation at key airports such as Birmingham and Shannon, alongside additional schedules from airports in the South-West, including new services from Newquay to London Stansted, bringing a third competitor between the two cities.

The Irish airline is a sizeable operator in the South-West, particularly at Bristol

Ryanair received its last 737-800 in late 2018, and this announcement confirms once again that it intends to continue with a fleet split between this type and the MAX variant – the first of which was delivered in June 2021. The majority of these aircraft will be used as a means to expand its fleet, rather than as a like-for-like replacement with its existing Next Generation 737s.

This move makes sense for Ryanair from a financial viewpoint, with the installation of the new winglets expected to create an annual saving of over €70.000 per aircraft due to the reduction in fuel use. This is on top of a 14% fuel burn reduction on its MAX aircraft when compared to the older model.