Ryanair Delays Boeing 737 MAX Deliveries Following Grounding

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary continues to have ‘utmost confidence’ in Boeing’s 737 MAX. This despite his postponing the delivery of the first five MAXs on order.

Ryanair Take Off
Michael O’Leary calls his new B737 MAX (not aircraft shown) a ‘game changer’. Photo: Ryanair

Five years ago the Irish low cost carrier ordered 135 B737 MAX 200s, with an option for 75 more. The first batch of aircraft – all with a high-density seat configuration – was slated for delivery in the summer of this year. However, due in part to the MAX being grounded in March following two accidents, Ryanair has postponed the delivery.

According to CNBC, the scheduled July arrival of Ryanair’s MAXs would have added a million new seats to the airline’s summer schedule.

Now Ryanair’s chances of operating the type will be determined by the findings of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Customary cramming

Despite his grounding of the MAX, O’Leary praises the type for its overall cost efficiency. The Irishman previously dubbed the MAX 200 a ‘game changer’.

Ryanair Headquarters
Ryanair’s new B737 MAX 200s to cater for 197 passengers. Photo: Ryanair

The MAX has 16% lower fuel consumption than similar aircraft and is 40% quieter. But, crucially for O’Leary, his version of the MAX is fitted with 197 seats; eight more than the 737-800s currently in use.

The greater seat capacity (which remains at 30” per pitch) will reduce still further Ryanair’s passenger CO2 kilometers. That, of course, brings an added benefit of further government-led environmental incentives.

The minimalism suits Ryanair’s customary sparing use of space, but comes at a cost to passenger comfort. The configuration includes non-reclining slim-line seats, a half-sized galley and minuscule toilets. Some reports suggest there will be just two of toilets located aft to cater for all 197 travelers.

B737 MAX grounding

In 2014 Ryanair was set to be the first European customer of the new B737 MAX 200, which is in essence a high-density version of the MAX 8.

In December 2018 the airline received its final B737-800. This was in preparation for the new era of MAXs, reports Mark Caswell for the Business Traveller

However, Boeing’s fleet of MAXs was, in March of this year, grounded after two crashes in five months of the type. The accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people; both have been blamed on Boeing’s anti-stall software.

Due to the continued grounding of the 737 MAX, other carriers such as American Airlines have canceled flights well into the summer.

Boeing to pay for delays

In addition to the uncertainty of Brexit and fierce competition from European carriers, the company part-blamed the MAX’s grounding for a drop in income. On Monday (20/05/19) Ryanair announced its lowest profit in four years. The carrier expects another slump in revenue later in the year.

US-traded shares of Ryanair fell by 1.6% in response to the announcement.

Ryanair airliner flying over Dublin
Ryanair expects Boeing to pay compensation for delays caused by grounding. Photo: Ryanair

Ryanair says the delayed deliveries of the MAX have led the airline to ‘not see any meaningful cost benefit until 2021‘. Thus the airline has frozen pre-delivery payments of the $22 billion order, and has made it clear that it expects Boeing to cover lost profits, according to CNBC.

Ryanair is engaged in talks with the US corporation.

We’re having a discussion with Boeing about getting financial compensation for the delays,’ O’Leary told CNBC. ‘I don’t need cash but would like some movement on pricing.’

Ryanair’s Neil Sorahan told Reuters the company plans to discuss ‘modest compensation’ with Boeing in due course.

The low cost carrier is a steadfast Boeing customer. It has a fleet of 431 737-800s. Ryanair Sun (now Buzz) and Ryanair UK also operate the 737-800.