Ryanair is negotiating with leasing companies affected by Thomas Cook's demise to take over several Airbus jets for use by its Austrian subsidiary Lauda.
Speaking at a briefing hosted by Thomson Reuters in London today, Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary said the plan was to boost Lauda's fleet for the summer 2020 schedule.
The number of aircraft would depend on asset pricing and company's capacity to recruit and train pilots ahead of the summer season, he says.
Lauda's fleet comprises 21 Airbus A320ceos, a mixture of CFM International CFM56- and International Aero Engines V2500-powered aircraft, Cirium fleets data shows.
Beyond Thomas Cook's fleet, O'Leary sees opportunity to increase the Ryanair group's A320 fleet with second-hand aircraft.
He says "lots of leasing companies are taking back 8-10-year-old Ceos" as airlines introduce A320neos.
Ryanair is in talks with both Boeing and Airbus about possible future aircraft orders for delivery beyond its existing fleet plan, which runs until 2024. But O'Leary concedes that discussions with Airbus are "not going very fast".
He currently sees "no pricing opportunity" with either airframer as Boeing concentrates on returning the 737 Max to service while Airbus ramps up production to deliver its A320neo backlog.
As "pricing is up" at both airframers, he says that Ryanair will "have to wait until the next turn of the cycle".
Cirium fleets data shows that Ryanair, its UK division, its Polish subsidiary Buzz, and Malta Air together have 456 737NGs in service.
The group has 135 Max 8s on order and holds options on a further 75.