Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary is eager to demonstrate his confidence in Boeing and the under-fire 737 Max by being the first to buy more once the aircraft has been cleared to return to service.
The Irish low-cost carrier is a major customer for the 737. According to Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer, it operates a fleet of 431 737NGs and hold orders for 135 of the Max variant along with 75 options.
Ryanair was due to receive its first Max in April and take five more during the 2019 summer season. But deliveries are suspended in the wake of the fleet-wide grounding that followed the second Max accident in March.
Max Kingsley-Jones / FlightGlobal
Speaking to CNBC TV, O’Leary said the loss of capacity caused by the Max delivery delay will “cost [Ryanair] about a million passengers through the summer” and that the next batch of 50 deliveries due from the fourth quarter of 2019 are not now expected until late this year or early next.
O’Leary says that talks with Boeing regarding compensation to cover lost revenue will focus on discounting rather than a cash settlement with the US manufacturer.
“We’re having a discussion with Boeing. I think they will have to sensibly approach the losses, the million passengers we’ve lost this year,” he says.
“I’m always much more interested in the cost of aircraft…I don’t need cash compensation. I’d like to see some movement from Boeing on the pricing of aircraft and on future orders.”
Ryanair is currently in talks with Boeing about placing another 737 order, says O’Leary. “Boeing don’t have the headspace at the moment to talk about future growth. We do.
“Ryanair will certainly be at the front of the queue once the Max is back flying about the next order because we want to demonstrate our confidence in Boeing.”
Meanwhile, emphasising Ryanair’s long-standing partnership with Boeing, O’Leary told CNBC he thinks the US manufacturer has handled the Max crisis “reasonably well. Once there was a known problem…they identified what the issue is.”
He concedes that “there are learnings for the FAA. Maybe the regulatory process with the manufacturer was a bit too close. Maybe there needs to be a bit more scrutiny. Ultimately, we’ve got great confidence in Boeing, in the FAA and in EASA.”