The fallout from the grounding of Boeing’s 737 MAX is impacting Ryanair’s future capacity plans, forcing the LCC to reassess its passenger growth outlook for the next financial year. In an update for investors, this week, the airline said it had cut its summer 2020 growth rate from 7% to 3% because its fleet will contain 28 fewer MAX 200s than predicted. The airline intended to have 58 of the type in service by the summer next year, but since the MAX 8 and 9 remain grounded it now expects to receive up to 30 MAX 200s by the end of May 2020.
“This shortfall in aircraft will require some base cuts and closures for summer 2020, but also for the winter 2019 schedule,” said Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary. As a result, the airline group trimmed its traffic forecast for the financial year ending March 31, 2021 to 157 million passengers. This was down from an earlier forecast of 162 million.
The airline placed orders for 135 MAX 200s and reserved options for an additional 75. Its MAX 200s are fitted in a 197-seat configuration, eight more than the standard 189 within its existing fleet. The first example was due to be delivered in April.
O’Leary noted that: “Boeing is hoping that a certification package will be submitted to regulators by September with a return to service shortly thereafter.
“We believe it would be prudent to plan for that date to slip by some months, possibly as late as December. As Ryanair have ordered the Boeing MAX 200s, which are a variant of the MAX aircraft, these need to be separately certified by the FAA and EASA. Ryanair expects that the MAX 200 will be approved for flight services within two months of the MAX return to service.”