In a new update, Ryanair says it doesn’t expect the grounded Boeing 737MAX aircraft to return to service until “possibly as late as December” and is planning for a high-density version of the same aircraft to be delayed until January or even February 2020. Ryanair’s decision to wipe 737MAX services from its schedules follows similar announcements from American Airlines and United in recent days.
As it stands, American Airlines has extended 737MAX cancellations until 2nd November, while Ryanair’s best-case scenario puts the MAX back in the air at some point in September.
Ryanair says in a note to investors that it is “fully committed” to the 737MAX and that it “now expects that it will return to flying service before the end of 2019”.
“However the exact date of this return remains uncertain,” the airline cautioned.
“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.”
A high-density version of the MAX, known as the MAX200, that Ryanair has ordered will have to be certified separately and this could mean an even longer delay for this variant to be given the green light. Ryanair is currently estimating a two-month wait once the 737MAX returns to service.
Looks like @Ryanair is dropping the MAX title from is new #737MAX200 aircraft. Instead of “737 MAX” on the nose the 5th aircraft rolled out of paint wearing “737-8200” in its place. pic.twitter.com/37HH5axgQx
— Woodys Aeroimages (@AeroimagesChris) July 14, 2019
One of Ryanair’s newly painted MAX200’s was recently spotted with the designation Boeing 737-8200 emblazoned on the side – although Ryanair nor Boeing has publicly commented on the matter, it’s believed the designation has been deliberately changed to avoid the now toxic MAX brand image.
Redundancies expected in the next few months
Ryanair has cut its Summer 2020 growth estimate on the back of the MAX grounding and now says growth will increase by only 3% next summer – down from the original estimate of 7%. Full-year passenger numbers for April 2020 – March 2021 may fall by as many as 5 million passengers.
That’s partly because Ryanair now only expects to receive 30 new 737MAX from now until March 2020 – down from the 58 new aircraft, the airline had been expecting to take delivery of.
Unfortunately, that means the airline plans on closing some bases and making some staff redundant.
“This shortfall in aircraft deliveries will necessitate some base cuts and closures for summer 2020, but also for the winter 2019 schedule,” Ryanair group chief executive Michael O’Leary explained.
“We are starting a series of discussions with our airports to determine which of Ryanair’s underperforming or loss-making bases should suffer these short term cuts and/or closures from November 2019. We will also be consulting with our people and our unions in planning and implementing these base cuts and closures, which are directly caused by the B737 MAX delivery delays to the B737 MAX program.”
O’Leary said he hopes to get growth back to “normal levels” by Summer 2021.