Ryanair is seeking two to three extra additional aircraft to give it "more firepower" as it seeks to take advantage of "various opportunities in the market" in Europe, finance chief Neil Sorahan has indicated.
Speaking at a media briefing in London today, Sorahan said the budget carrier was in talks with Boeing to potentially order more aircraft "at the right price" and was also seeking to extend the leases on three aircraft in 2018 and 10 in 2019.
Sorahan says these moves are intended to "make sure we have got the capacity" for a number of initiatives, including the setting-up of charter airline "Ryanair Sun" in Poland, and to provide "flexibility as we see more growth opportunities around Europe on the back of the restructuring that's going in places like Germany, in Italy, down in Portugal, Poland and elsewhere".
Ryanair is receiving 50 new aircraft this year, but Sorahan says there will be a "slowdown in deliveries" ahead of the arrival of its first 737 Max aircraft in autumn 2019.
With this in mind, the Dublin-headquartered airline is deferring the sale of some older aircraft in order to maintain a fleet of 585 aircraft. As the first Max orders arrive, aircraft sales will accelerate, he adds.
Sorahan says Ryanair has little appetite to acquire aircraft from restructuring airlines such as Air Berlin or Alitalia, unless there was a "fire sale" of their assets, given that "we buy our aircraft for such a good price from Boeing".
He says that while he expects Alitalia to "come out the other side" of its administration process, even if the Italian carrier's leased narrowbody fleet were to be returned to their lessors they would retain their value given demand in eastern Europe and Asia.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Ryanair has orders for 65 737-800s and 100 Max 8s on order, and has 563 aircraft currently in its inventory, excluding three Bombardier Learjet 45s.