Ryanair Expects Further Delays to Max's Return to Service

 - November 4, 2019, 3:11 PM

The continuing delays of the return to service of the Boeing 737 Max has forced Ryanair to again revise its planning, and Europe’s largest low-cost carrier (LCC) now expects to take delivery of its first Max 200 in March or April next year “at the earliest,” subject to European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approval. The Dublin-based group—consisting of Ryanair DAC in Ireland, Buzz in Poland, Lauda in Austria, and Malta Air—has 135 Max 200s on firm order, with 75 options. Its Max 200s, designed to hold 189 seats, require additional EASA certification.

“The risk of further delay is rising, which means we are getting very tight for the summer 2020 [schedule],” said Ryanair group CEO Michael O’ Leary. The LCC further reduced its expectation of 30 Max deliveries in advance of peak summer 2020 to 20 aircraft, and O’Leary warned of “a real risk of none.” Ryanair, Europe’s largest operator of Boeing airplanes, had initially planned to deploy 58 Max jets next summer. Capacity growth next summer could prove far more modest “if not zero,” he noted, adding that such an eventuality would likely lead to better yield performance.

Despite the lingering uncertainty of when the Max will fly again, O’ Leary remained overtly committed to the model, which Boeing promises will burn 16 percent less fuel than the airline’s current 737-800s while carrying 4 percent more seats. “[This] will transform our cost base and our business for the next decade,” he said, though he admitted that due to the delivery delays, the company will not see any of the anticipated cost savings until its next financial year, starting April 2021.

Earlier this year, Ryanair said the Max delivery delays forced it to cut or close a number of bases and trim passenger growth for financial year 2021 to 157 million, down from a previous outlook of 162 million passengers.