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Ryanair backflips on 737 MAX order intentions

written by Hannah Dowling | November 25, 2020

Artists impression of a 737 MAX in Ryanair livery (Ryanair/Boeing).

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has said the airline hopes to place new orders on Boeing’s embattled 737 MAX, a 180-degree flip on comments made by Ryanair DAC CEO Eddie Wilson last week.

“I think it is important for Boeing to announce some customer orders and we would certainly be very keen to be at the front of the queue because the MAX 200 is a great aircraft,” O’Leary said on Tuesday, referring to the 197-seat variant of the plane.

The low-cost carrier is one of Boeing’s largest customers in Europe, and currently has 135 firm orders for the MAX 200.

O’Leary said he is “reasonably hopeful” of coming to a deal with Boeing in the coming weeks or months for a fresh order. 

“I would hope to reach agreement if not before the end of the year, very early in the new year,” he added.

O’Leary’s comments appear to fly in the face of Ryanair DAC (the airline, rather than the parent company) chief executive Eddie Wilson, who just days beforehand claimed that Ryanair is currently not intending to place any new orders on the 737 MAX.

Wilson said on Thursday that “at the moment” the airline will only stand by “the order we have”.


However, at this time Wilson did suggest that the airline might invest in new MAX jets should current market conditions bring down their cost in the future.

“Over time one can see that there will be a way that aircraft are going to be cheaper … and we will capitalise on that at some stage,” Wilson said.

It is however highly likely that Boeing is offering customers major discounts on new MAX orders, in order to drum up interest in what was once its best-selling product, industry sources have said.

This is particularly likely to be the case now, as major customers begin to show hesitation towards the MAX, a major blow for the floundering US planemaker.

Boeing’s largest customer worldwide, US-based Southwest Airlines, made comments last week that suggested it might not need to take delivery of some of the new 737 MAX jets it has on order, and in fact is looking to reduce its fleet size as it continues to burn cash due to COVID-19.

“If demand is going to be persistently depressed, we can retire [our planes] and not need to take airplanes as replacements,” Southwest chief executive Gary Kelly said.

While some carriers show hesitation towards the MAX, others, like American Airlines, are ready to stand behind Boeing and the newly updated software and procedural protocols of 737 MAX. 

American has said it hopes to achieve the necessary upgrades and perform its first passenger service on the MAX by the end of December.

Regardless of the response of airlines, passengers appear to be far more wary of the 737 MAX, a plane that caused two fatal crashes, and killed 346 people across 2018 and 2019.

As such, American has introduced a policy that will allow passengers to make it known that they do not wish to fly on the MAX, and change their flight free of charge.


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