Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary denied the low-cost carrier (LCC) has entered active discussions with Airbus on a large aircraft order, though he said he would be open to talks if “the price is right.” Speaking with AIN on the sidelines of the aviation summit organized by Airlines for Europe (A4E) on Tuesday in Brussels, O’Leary said Airbus had solicited the company and asked about its potential interest in single-aisle aircraft with early 2025 production slots. “They called us two weeks ago on Friday,” O’Leary said, pointing out that “it has to take a lot for Airbus to contact us.” Ryanair, Europe’s largest LCC, deploys a single Boeing 737-800 fleet fitted with 189 seats, except for its Austrian subsidiary, Laudamotion, which operates A320-200s.
O’Leary said he did not know the specifics or size of the offered production slots, noting he assumes that airlines or lessors affected by the Covid-19 virus must be canceling Airbus orders. “We told them we would be interested though only if the price is right,” he explained. “We invited them to come over. We have no news yet. It has been a week now.”
The LCC would prefer to discuss a large order because it provides for a stronger position in price negotiations, according to O’Leary. But Ryanair would be willing to “take 10 aircraft if they were cheap,” he said, asserting 10 A320-family aircraft would take care of Laudamotion’s growth next year. Plans call for Laudamotion to expand its fleet from 23 to 36 aircraft this summer, with most of that growth taking place at its main base in Vienna.
Last month, speaking during the company’s results presentation for the quarter ended December 31, O’Leary revealed Ryanair had reached out to Boeing to take on more Max jets—possibly including the largest variant, the 737 Max 10—in parallel with discussions on compensation for the late delivery of the grounded narrowbodies. Ryanair holds orders for 210 737 Max 200s.