Ryanair to close bases after 737 Max delays

Ryanair has warned that it will be forced to cut the number of flights next summer and close some bases because of delays to deliveries of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft.

Budget carrier Ryanair has trimmed its summer 2020 growth rate from 7 percent to 3 percent and revealed plans to close some bases.

It has blamed delays to deliveries of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, saying it has revised next year’s summer schedule based on 30 incremental aircraft, rather than 58.

Europe’s largest low-cost airline has ordered 135 of the 737 Max 200 models, which remain grounded after two fatal crashes.

Ryanair hopes to receive its first Max 200 aircraft “sometime between January and February 2020”.

However, as it can only take delivery of between six to eight new aircraft each month, it is now planning its summer 2020 schedules based on taking up to 30 aircraft deliveries up to end of May 2020. This is less than the 58 Boeing originally scheduled to deliver.

Ryanair said this number could rise, or fall further, depending on when the Max jet returns to service.

“This shortfall in aircraft deliveries will necessitate some base cuts and closures for summer 2020, but also for the winter 2019 schedule,” chief executive Michael O’Leary said.

“We are starting a series of discussions with our airports to determine which of Ryanair’s underperforming or loss-making bases should suffer these short term cuts and/or closures from November 2019.”

The airline added that its full year traffic growth for the year to March 2021 will be cut from 162 million passengers to about 157 million.

“Ryanair remains committed to the B737 Max aircraft, and now expects that it will return to flying service before the end of 2019, however the exact date of this return remains uncertain,” O’Leary said.

“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.”