Ryanair has increased its order for Boeing B737 Max 200 by a further 75 aircraft.
The carrier first placed an order for 100 of the densely-configured version of the B737 Max 8 back in 2014 and has since increased this to 135, and now 210.
The total value of the order stands at over $22 billion, with deliveries set to run until the end of 2024.
Boeing’s Max aircraft have been grounded since March 2019, following two fatal crashes which killed 346 people.
But the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently rescinded its order which halted commercial operation of Boeing’s B737 Max 8 and Max 9 aircraft, paving the way for the plane to return to the skies.
Ryanair said that it now expects to receive its first B737 Max 200 in early 2021, with group CEO Michael O’Leary stating that the airline hopes to take delivery of at least 50 of the aircraft next year.
The carrier said that it will use the aircraft “to grow its low fare services into new EU countries and markets, which will incentivize Europe’s consumers and its travel industry to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, as quickly as multiple vaccines are rolled out in 2021, and life returns to normal”.
Ryanair also said that it had an undisclosed compensation package with Boeing “for the direct costs incurred by Ryanair over the past 18 months due to these delivery delays”, with some of this compensation “factored into a modest reduction in the pricing of this new aircraft order”.
Boeing president and CEO Dave Calhoun said that the firm was “gratified that Ryanair is once again placing its confidence in the Boeing 737 family”, while O’ Leary commented:
“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.
“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.
“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.
“We are extremely grateful to our shareholders who have recently supported a €1.25 billion fundraising, without which we could not have placed this large but very timely aircraft order during a once in a century downturn in the airline industry. 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.”
Soutthwest Airlines – currently the largest operator of the B737 Max with 34 deliveries – said last month that it anticipates the resumption of B737 Max flights “no sooner than the second quarter of 2021”.