Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has chided United Airlines over its stance on the Boeing 737 Max 10, adding that the Irish budget carrier will pick up any deliveries the US airline opts not to take.

O’Leary spoke as Ryanair unveiled third-quarter financial results, three weeks after the Alaska Airlines incident in which a Max 9 shed a door plug during a flight from Portland.

United Airlines chief Scott Kirby stated on 23 January that the carrier had removed the Max 10 – for which it holds over 230 orders – from its internal planning, although he pointed out that the order was not being cancelled.

But O’Leary seized upon the remarks during a financial briefing on 29 January, defending the 737 Max and stating that United’s comments “weren’t helpful”.

“If United Airlines wants to delay or cancel any of their [737 Max 10] orders, Ryanair would be very happy to take them,” he says.

O’Leary described the Max as a “great aircraft”, underlining its fuel efficiency.

“If United doesn’t want to take them, Ryanair certainly will,” he says, adding that the budget carrier is prepared to “talk to Boeing” and accept Max 10s earlier.

Ryanair has 150 Max 10s on firm order which will start arriving in 2027.

United 737 Max

Source: Boeing

O’Leary says Ryanair would gladly take earlier Max 10s from United’s slots

O’Leary acknowledges that the Max 9 situation has highlighted a need for improved Boeing oversight at the Spirit AeroSystems facility in Wichita and its own production lines in Seattle, adding that Ryanair is sending engineers to both locations to monitor quality.

But he says the last 12 Max 8-200 delivered to Ryanair showed a “meaningful improvement” in quality after going through two days of checks.

Ryanair group chief financial officer Neil Sorahan says the airline will have a “couple of years’ holiday” on capital expenditure as Max 8-200 deliveries end, before of the arrival of Max 10s.

He expects capex of €2.8 billion ($3 billion) this year will fall to €1.3 billion and then €1 billion over the next two years before pre-delivery and delivery payments on the Max 10 commence.

This break will generate rising cash-flow and enable the airline to service maturing debt, says Sorahan, while Ryanair will also start to sell its older 737-800s as the Max 10s arrive.