Ryanair – Europe’s largest airline – has placed a firm order for 75 additional 737 MAX aircraft, increasing its order book from 135 to 210 jets. Ryanair has selected the 737 8-200 in the £22bn deal, a higher-capacity version of the 737-8, with additional seats and improved fuel efficiency and environmental performance.

Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said: “We are pleased and proud to place this enlarged order with Boeing, who have successfully completed the return to service of the Boeing MAX aircraft. The Boeing MAX is a fabulous aircraft with more seats, more leg room, lower fares, lower fuel consumption, and it sets incredible environmental standards, including 40 per cent less noise and lower CO2 emissions.”

Carrier aims to “rapidly restore flights and schedules” after virus recedes

“We hope to take delivery of at least 50 of these aircraft in 2021, subject to Boeing recovering its manufacturing output to deliver them. For as long as the COVID-19 pandemic depresses air travel, we will use these new aircraft to replace some of our older Boeing NG fleet, which will remain grounded until pre-COVID demand returns. But as soon as the COVID-19 virus recedes – and it will in 2021 with the rollout of multiple effective vaccines – Ryanair and our partner airports across Europe will – with these environmentally efficient aircraft – rapidly restore flights and schedules, recover lost traffic and help the nations of Europe recover their tourism industry, and get young people back to work across the cities, beaches, and ski resorts of the EU.”

O’Leary and Ryanair leaders joined the Boeing team for a signing ceremony in Washington, DC. Both companies acknowledged COVID-19’s impacts on air traffic in the near-term, but expressed confidence in the resilience and strength of the passenger demand over the long term.

Ryanair is launch customer for 737-8 variant

Ryanair is the launch customer for the 737-8 variant, having placed its first order for 100 aircraft and 100 options in late 2014, followed by firm orders of 10 aircraft in 2017 and 25 in 2018. The 737 8-200 will enable Ryanair to configure its aircraft with 197 seats, increasing revenue potential, and reducing fuel consumption by 16 per cent compared to the airline’s previous aircraft.

Dave Calhoun, president and CEO of The Boeing Company said: “Ryanair will continue to play a leading role in our industry when Europe recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and air traffic returns to growth across the continent. We are gratified that Ryanair is once again placing its confidence in the Boeing 737 family and building their future fleet with this enlarged firm order.”

“Boeing remains focused on safely returning the full 737 fleet to service and on delivering the backlog of airplanes to Ryanair and our other customers. We firmly believe in this airplane, and we will continue the work to re-earn the trust of all of our customers,” Calhoun added.

First deliveries in early 2021

Ryanair expects to take the first deliveries from early 2021 with the aircraft delivered over a 4-year period between Spring 2021 and December 2024.

Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Ryanair had said it was on track to carry over 150m passengers. The carrier will use the new aircraft to grow its low fare services into new EU countries and markets as the travel industry recovers from the pandemic.

Ryanair and Boeing have agreed revised delivery dates and have also agreed compensation for the direct costs incurred by Ryanair over the past 18 months due to delays. A statement by Ryanair said the compensation has been factored into a modest reduction in the pricing of this new aircraft order which encouraged Ryanair to increase the firm order from 135 to 210 aircraft.

O’Leary: Boeing provided “fair compensation” for delayed deliveries

O’Leary said: “We sincerely thank our partners in Boeing, who have worked closely with us over the last 18 months to reschedule aircraft deliveries, to provide fair compensation to reflect those costs which Ryanair has incurred through these delivery delays and to agree this new enlarged aircraft order. We are working closely with Boeing and our senior pilot professionals to assist our regulator EASA to certify these aircraft in Europe, and to complete the training of our pilots and crews across our 3 new Boeing MAX simulators in Dublin and Stansted.”

O’Leary added that the expanded order of the 737 MAX-8200, described in a company statement as a “gamechanger” for the airline, had been supported through €1.25 billion shareholder fundraising, during “a once in a century downturn in the airline industry.”

Carrier plans to recruit and train thousands of pilots and cabin crew

He added: “We believe our people will enjoy flying these exciting new aircraft, which will, we hope, allow us to recruit/train many thousands of new pilots and cabin crew over the next five years. The Board and people of Ryanair are confident that our customers will love these new aircraft, they will enjoy the new interiors, the more generous leg room, the lower fuel consumption and the quieter noise performance, but most of all, they will love the lower fares, which these aircraft will enable Ryanair to offer not just in 2021, but for the next decade, as Ryanair leads a strong recovery of Europe’s aviation and tourism industry out of the 2020 Covid-19 crisis.”

The statement by Ryanair said the B 737 MAX-8200, when delivered, “will be the most audited, most regulated in aviation history.” As well as helping Ryanair to lower its cost base and return to growth across Europe in 2021, it would lower CO2 and noise footprint, making Ryanair Europe’s greenest, cleanest airline, and helping the carrier reach its target of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

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