Despite major safety concerns and two fatal crashes that claimed the lives of 346 people, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has said not one customer has requested to change their flight from a 737 MAX since the airline introduced the type.
Like many airlines that have invested in the 737 MAX, Ryanair introduced a policy that allowed any passengers to request a change of flight should they be uncomfortable flying on the MAX, however, according to the airline’s chief executive, no customers have made such a request.
In fact, O’Leary said that the aircraft had received “fantastic” reviews since it entered service with the budget airline.
Ryanair took delivery of its first 737 MAX just last month, and since then, has performed more than 20 passenger flights from its bases in London Standsted, Dublin and Milan Bergamo – all with a 75 per cent load factor, and no requests for flight changes.
“We think they will deliver what [Boeing] promised — 4 per cent more seats [compared with its 189-seat 737-800s] but probably a 16 to 17 per cent lower fuel consumption per seat and 40 per cent less CO2 emissions,” O’Leary told AIN.
Ryanair is the first carrier to welcome the 737 MAX 8-200, a variant tailor-made for budget carriers that enables additional seating.
Ryanair made its first order for the 197-seat MAX 8200 jet in late 2014. The agreement included 100 firm orders and 100 options. Ryanair later made another firm order for 10 jets in 2017, and a further 25 in 2018.
The jet’s certification was held up during the 20-month grounding of the entire 737 MAX fleet after two fatal accidents that killed 346 people in total in 2018 and 2019.
Following a months-long process of safety upgrades and test flights, the FAA was the first to lift its grounding order on the MAX 8 in November 2020 – however, the airline’s 8200 only received its official certification in April this year.
Despite the ongoing issues, Ryanair continued to support the jet as it carries 4 per cent more passengers, with 16 per cent less fuel burn than its predecessor.
The carrier currently has 210 8-200s on firm order, and deliveries will spread out over the next four years, totaling the fleet to 600.
“Because of the several delays we wanted to have the 12 aircraft in the system before starting the pace of eight deliveries per month from September,” said O’Leary. “Between September and April 2022, we are taking delivery of 54 MAX Gamechanger aircraft.
“We bought three simulators and we trained all our pilots and cabin crew on these new aircraft. We want to start working them.”
The airline has seen a strong uptick in European traffic, operating on average 1,867 flights per day, far higher than its competitors, according to Eurocontrol data.
O’Leary hopes to see more than 10 million passengers by August if restrictions continue to ease in the UK and Ireland later this month, after recording 5.3 million passengers in June.