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Ryanair raises passenger forecast amid CEOs confidence in fleet size

written by Isabella Richards | September 17, 2021
Boeing 737-800 Ryanair, pictured at Barcelona Airport (BCN) (Source: Australian Aviation archives)

Ryanair has raised its five-year growth targets as it remains confident in its fleet to carry the airline through the COVID-19 recovery, despite dropping major aircraft deals.

The Irish carrier held its annual general meeting on Thursday and its shareholders approved its growth forecast to be raised from 33 per cent to 50 per cent.

“Ryanair’s pre-COVID traffic of 149 million is expected to grow to over 225m guests by March 2026, which is 25 million passengers p.a. higher than the previous target of 200 million,” the company said.

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This comes as Ryanair has seen huge a improvement in passenger numbers over the past few months as restrictions ease within Europe.

Based on continuous high vaccination rates and “no adverse COVID developments”, the company will keep its word on its 737 8200 ‘gamechanger’ orders.

Ryanair is one of Europe’s largest Boeing customers, with over 250 737 jets in its fleet, according to Planespotters.

The Dublin-based carrier expects to take delivery of all 210 Boeing 737 8200 jets by 2026 – the first was delivered in June after a two-year delay.

“The performance of the B737 Gamechanger aircraft this summer has exceeded our expectations,” Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said.

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“Operational reliability, fuel consumption, and lower CO2 emissions have so far exceeded guidelines with very positive passenger and crew feedback to these new, more fuel efficient, quieter aircraft.”

These deliveries will see Ryanair open up ten new bases across Europe this year as it sets its sights on ambitious passenger growth.

The news comes off the back of Ryanair dropping plans to continue with a potentially US$33 billion deal for Boeing’s 737 MAX 10 jets in early September over unmatched price negotiations.

O’Leary said the company decided to maintain a track record of “not paying high prices for aircraft,” while Boeing remained “disciplined” in its high price stamp.

But O’Leary said at an analyst call on Thursday after the general meeting he “couldn’t care less” if Ryanair didn’t make another Boeing order until 2025.

O’Leary is confident in Ryanair’s growth without additional Boeing aircraft and said he is willing to wait years for the planemaker to drop the price tag.

“The one great thing about the airline industry is we know there’s going to be another crisis in five years’ time” – which will result in reduced aircraft prices, he added.

Analysts have said the continued scrutiny over the MAX aircraft due to the fatal crashes two years ago may result in Boeing improving the offer with its long-standing partner.

Although the deal was tabled, Ryanair confirmed the two companies are still in a good relationship.

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