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Ryanair in talks with Chinese, Russian plane makers

Ryanair, Europe’s biggest low-cost airline, has launched talks with Russian and Chinese aircraft manufacturers about supplying the carrier with new planes, Ryanair head Michael O’Leary said Tuesday.

The Irish airline currently flies only Boeing 737 jets but it broke off negotiations with the US firm on a massive new plane order in late 2009 because the two sides could not agree on terms and conditions.

Russia’s United Aircraft Corp. and China’s Comac have provided jets mostly to their domestic carriers and are largely untested in Western markets, where Boeing and European rival Airbus dominate the market.

“We have just started talks with the Russian and the Chinese. There is nothing to update on that at the moment,” O’Leary told a news conference in Madrid.

United Aircraft Corp. is developing a medium range jet that can seat between 150 and 212 passengers called the MS-21 that will compete with Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320 and which has already been ordered by Russia’s Aeroflot.

Comac is working on a similar single-aisle passenger jet called the C919.

Both are expected to be introduced after 2014.

Ryanair, which operates more than 1,500 flights a day, expects to carry around 73.5 million passengers in the fiscal year ending March 2011.