Boeing 737 MAX Delays Prompts Ryanair To Close 4 Spanish Bases

Ryanair is set to cut four Spanish bases as a result of delays to its Boeing 737 MAX order. The airline had been expecting to receive its first of the 200 seater aircraft in April, however, the grounding of the MAX has resulted in a significant delay.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, Base Closures
Ryanair expected the 737 MAX to be delivered from April 2019. Photo: Ryanair

Ryanair is the launch customer of the Boeing 737 MAX 200, an aircraft that the carrier now appears to have rebranded the Boeing 737-8200. The airline has 135 of the aircraft on order. The LCC was planning to use some of these aircraft to expand its network, however, plans have needed to change now that the aircraft has not been delivered to schedule.

Expansion halted

Ryanair was expecting its first delivery of the Boeing 737 MAX in April of this year. However, following two fatal accidents involving the aircraft, the 737 MAX was grounded in March. During the half a year that the aircraft has been grounded, no aircraft have been delivered by Boeing, forcing the manufacturer to commandeer a staff carpark to store the aircraft.

Ryanair had been planning to expand its network with the Boeing 737 MAX and had already taken steps to make this happen. However, while the airline hired more pilots, it has not received the aircraft it needs to put these pilots to use.

In fact, at the start of August, the group’s CEO Michael O’Leary warned that the airline had a surplus of 900 staff. While it had been expecting to be flying 58 737 MAX aircraft in the summer of 2020, right now it still has none.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, Base Closures
Without the 737 MAX, Ryanair’s summer 2020 could be much bleaker than they had planned. Photo: Ryanair

Spanish base closures

The lack of aircraft has also led Ryanair to decide on base closures. According to CAPA, the airline is considering closing three bases on the Canary Islands and one on mainland Spain. These proposed closures will affect Girona, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, and Tenerife.

The publication goes on to state that and many as 520 jobs could be at stake from the base closures. This figure would include 120 pilots. Understandably, the staff members that could potentially be affected are not happy. This has led the relevant unions protesting against Ryanair.

Ryanair, Boeing 737 MAX, Base Closures
Ryanair’s new 737 max aircraft are part of a $200m investment. Photo: Ryanair

Boeing is currently working on a fix to the 737 MAX’s MCAS system, and over 800 test flights have taken place so far. Once Boeing is completely confident with its software fix, it will hand the aircraft over to regulators to re-certify. Given the severity of the issue, it is unlikely that Boeing will submit the fix until it is totally confident that any issues have been addressed. A further crash due to MCAS would completely shred what is left of the Boeing 737 MAX’s image, and possibly Boeing itself.

Do you think Ryanair is right to close the bases due to the 737 MAX delay? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!