Boeing 737 MAX Delay Could Force Ryanair To Close Bases

Yesterday, we reported that Ryanair was changing the name printed on their Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. However, today the story develops. The Irish low-cost airlines’ Chief Operating Officer has warned that some bases could be downsized or closed.

Ryanair Boeing 737 MAX Delay
The airline was due to receive its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in April. Photo: Ryanair

The Boeing 737 MAX’s grounding has had a profound effect on some of the airlines which are relying on it most. One of these airlines is Ryanair, who are due to receive 135 Boeing 737-MAX200 aircraft. The airlines first 737 MAX aircraft were due to be delivered in April. However, this was delayed given the aircraft’s worldwide grounding.

What was said?

The comments regarding the Boeing 737 MAX closing bases were reported by The Irish Times from Ryanair’s Cheif Operating Officer, Peter Bellew. Mr. Bellew is set to leave his job by the end of the year following his second stint working for the airline.

The airline had initially been planning a large expansion for next summer, given its new aircraft deliveries. However, it has now been reported that Ryanair has stopped hiring pilots as it has too many. In fact, according to an internal letter sent by Mr. Bellew and seen by the Irish Times, the airline has around 300 too many pilots. However, Ryanair is not alone in this respect. Earlier this year, Icelandair laid off its Boeing 737 MAX pilots as a result of the crisis.

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Ryanair Boeing 737 MAX Delay
The airline is now expecting its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in early 2020. Photo: Ryanair

2020 MAX deliveries

According to Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, the company is now expecting its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in 2020. He made the comments to Irish Times separately from Mr. Bellew. According to O’Leary, Ryanair’s 200 seat Boeing 737 MAX has to go through a certification process separate to the model it is based on.

To accommodate 200 passengers, the aircraft has an extra set of emergency exits built into the fuselage. O’Leary told the Irish Times,

“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”.

Ryanair Boeing 737 MAX Delay
The 200 seat aircraft requires separate certification due to its additional emergency exits. Photo: Ryanair

Boeing 737 MAX implementation plan

O’Leary’s comments go on to address how Ryanair will implement the Boeing 737 MAX. The carrier had been expecting to start the summer 2020 schedule with 58 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. However, this will now be much lower.

Ryanair will only be able to accept between six and eight Boeing 737 MAX aircraft per month. As such, by the time next year’s summer schedule arrives, O’Leary hopes to be operating 30 of the Boeing 737 MAX-200, or the Boeing 737-8200 as the aircraft has been renamed.

How long do you think the Boeing 737 MAX grounding will affect Ryanair. Which bases do you think could get the chop if necessary? Let us know in the comments!

17 comments
  1. Ryanair run a VERY tight ship with regard to planning and margins; once the MAX grounding starts to bite 2020 growth and planning to this extent (3% growth instead of 7%), patience at Ryanair is going to start wearing VERY thin.
    Ryanair has previously expressed interest in the COMAC C919, which indicates that it’s not necessarily “married” to Boeing. And it’s now using A320s at LAUDA (and soon at Malta Air), which gives it an opportunity to get familiar with the Airbus product. When you think about it, an A321 with 240+ passengers would suit Ryanair much better than a MAX200 with 198 passengers. And they could also acquire some LR and XLR variants, for even greater network expansion.
    Alaska Air were previously an avid all-Boeing carrier, but they acquired A320s via the acquisition of Virgin America, and are apparently very happy with the Airbus product. The same happened with Delta when it acquired the Northwest A330s. So there are precedents for defections in the industry. Airbus would absolutely LOVE to steal such a huge customer from Boeing, so you can be sure that Airbus would do everything feasible to provide a good price and relatively early slots.
    I really wonder if, behind the scenes, O’Leary has made a few calls to Toulouse.

    1. Well, having a ship that runs only on the plane that has the worst reputation among its customer base is usually not a good idea. A lot of people will avoid Ryanair completely as it already has a shoddy name in regards of how they treat their employees.

      I am afraid this will be the plane that not only killed many passengers, but will also kill some airlines a long its path of death…

      1. Western Europe passengers will say “No” to flying with the 737 Max aircrafts but I bet Ryanair will rely on Ukrainians,Poles, Moroccan etc passengers who will always pick up the cheapest flights no matter what.

        1. That’s a very likely scenario Caroline… although I think there will still be some stalwart shoe-string travelers who pick the cheapest, most convenient flight regardless of equipment, even in Europe.

    2. Leave it up to NIGEL to continue the fear-mongering on the deadly MAX — all in the name of sake that Airbus can rule !!! One, you might want to read how Airbus is struggling to keep up with deliveries, so even if Ryanair defected — they aren’t getting anything from Airbus in the near future. SECOND – the only way Airbus can pass Boeing is continue the fear-mongering about the MAX — can’t do with their products now can they.

      1. Two comments on that rant:
        – Airbus (and other manufacturers) regularly get cancellations and deferrals, which result in unexpected free slots. These can be allocated to new customers, if existing customers don’t want to adjust delivery schedules. That’s what happened with the Hawaiian 787s, for example.
        – The A320 family is currently being produced at rate 60 per month, whereas the MAX is currently at rate 42 (with zero deliveries per month)…so there’s no “fearmongering” needed for Airbus to “pass” Boeing.

        Keep taking the seratonin medication!

        1. For this year NIGEL — and FEARMONGERING — the explanation of calling the plane a killer — lets think about it — ANYBODY who has a aviation safety group from America to Europe and most 3rd would countries are now going over EVERY line of code and engineering drawing on that aircraft and putting there comments on ANYTHING they THINK could be an issue — by the time the politics are done — IT WILL BE THE SAFEST AIRCRAFT IN THE WORLD — maybe Boeing should just raise up the landing gear – tuck the engines under the wings and call it the B737neo

          1. By the way NIGEL — where were you when AF447 crashed — that A330 that fell out of the sky , took months to find the Black boxes so they could find out why — knew the aircraft gave incorrect info to the pilots — they stalled and fell out of the sky from 38000 feet — killed 228. Where you screaming for the A330 to be grounded or redesigned? It was due to a pitot tube error , no backup system and the fly-by-wire issues were found that if 1 pilot pulls back and 1 pushes forward — the plane just keeps flying — and I love in the end — plane has problem — cockpit confusion — plane crashes — ITS THE PILOTS FAULT — only on an Airbus can you get that outcome

  2. The good RyanAir arguments to not fulfil their contract… in did !
    Some base are quite depending of some local financial help…

    What really happen with the existent aircraft ? Upgrading,, Decommissioning…. ???

    Please, if someone know…! ….Does Boeing keep On the Production of the 737 Max ????

  3. The following link (in Dutch) cites an analysis by market research bureau Redburn, which asserts that Ryanair competitors Easyjet, Air France – KLM, Transavia, Lufthansa and IAG will be able to steal market share from Ryanair as a result of the capacity issues raised in the article above. This will probably cause Ryanair’s annoyance to turn to fury.
    https://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/nieuws/categorie/2/airlines/tragere-groei-ryanair-goed-nieuws-voor-air-france-klm

    1. Hey, you named all the airlines mad at Ryanair for selling cheap tickets – think they can lower their price too or just stick it to the Europeans?

  4. Really, you would know Nigel — and you always avoid facts and spit out your Airbus propaganda like a good little boy. So, NO – you didn’t whine and call the A330 a killer — no, you didn’t care if they had to fix the issue, by the way – can’t find anywhere where they built in redundancy for the side-stick cancellation issue with AF447 and ironic – if AF447 had MCAS — it might have survived — keep bashing Boeing — its all you know — i just hope the FAA remembers this little fun filled trip when Airbus wants to certify another plane —

    1. I disagree in the sense that this isn’t an Airbus vs Boeing/FAA thing. This is a serious safety concern. Two brand new A330s did not crash within months of each other. Two Boeing 737 MAX aircraft did. The A330 was not based off a 1960s aircraft design. The 737 MAX is. Plenty of new aircraft have problems that require fixing. The 787 had lithium battery issues. The A320neo had some engine issues. Overall, however, neither of those aircraft suffered entirely fatal crashes as a result of a design/technical element.

      But the idea that the 737 MAX will be the safest aircraft in the world after all this is not actually a good thing. The aircraft should have been the safest in the world from the get-go, not after two completely fatal accidents. In this case, this was Boeing’s mistake. To use Boeing’s mistake as a sort of “revenge” against Airbus is just plain wrong. Every new aircraft should undergo rigorous safety testing. However, there is a difference between vetting an aircraft and seeking out every little flaw for the purpose of retribution when Airbus did nothing wrong.

  5. Ryan Air Boeing 737 MAxes are being rebranded in BOEING 737-8200 …
    My guess is that if that RyanAir will be hit with a mega passengers’desertion in Western Europe( pasengers will fly with Easyjet instead) but not in Eastern Europe( Poland,Ukraine etc) and not in Africa( Morocco etc)
    Passengers from Poland(where RyanAir has a huge base) Ukraine or Morocco traveling to Western Europe (France,UK, Germany, Spain etc) are poorer and if they only have a choice between a regular carrier and a low cost one,they ll fly no matter what with RyanAir on 737-8200 ex Boeing 737 Max because it is cheaper .

  6. Some of the comments made me smile. I’m Polish and I perfectly understand the generalization about Eastern Europeans, but that’s what it is: generalization.
    Myself I travel a lot, in and off the season. I’m choosing the airline by convenience (nearest airport home and nearest airport to my destination), dates of travel and number of flights available during week and then price. In that order. My priority is to save time, not the money. Well, since time is money, then after all it is money… 😀
    But on serious note: I wouldn’t travel on plane with safety concern even for free. I rather stay and don’t travel at all if there is no safe option.
    I’m also trying to avoid Ryanair as much as possible due to their poor employee relations.
    Some places are accessible only by that airline though, that’s where they are “winning”their loyal costumers….

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