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Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is Second Airline Boss to Slam Boeing Over Quality Control Issues in Wake of 737 MAX 9 Door Plug Accident

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary is Second Airline Boss to Slam Boeing Over Quality Control Issues in Wake of 737 MAX 9 Door Plug Accident

a man in a suit speaking into microphones

Never one to shy away from the headlines, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary has become the second airline executive to slam Boeing over perceived quality control issues at its commercial aircraft division.

O’Leary made his comments in the wake of the Alaska Airlines accident on Friday in which a door plug on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 blew out. Suspicion as to the cause of the accident has fallen on manufacturing or installation issues, and Boeing is coming under increasing pressure to address industry concerns.

Ryanair does not operate the Boeing 737 MAX 9, although it does operate the smaller MAX 8 model in a high-capacity configuration known as the 8200. This variant has actual emergency exits where aircraft operated by other airlines have exit plugs installed.

Although not directly impacted by the fallout from Friday’s near miss, O’Leary is nonetheless concerned about delivery delays from Boeing and the impact that could have on Ryanair’s bottom line over the busy summer months when the group’s capacity could face a squeeze.

“Capacity is heavily challenged … airfares, particularly peak summer, are going to be higher because there’s going to be less short-haul capacity around Europe,” the often outspoken CEO said on Tuesday.

“The real challenge for both Airbus and Boeing is they are both running behind on their plans to increase monthly production. A lot of that is supply chain pressures. I think that both Airbus and Boeing, certainly Boeing, need to significantly improve quality control,” O’Leary continued.

Ryanair had been promised 27 new aircraft to be delivered from Boeing in time for Christmas, but the Dublin-based carrier only ended up receiving 11 new 737s. The low-cost carrier was also hoping to receive as many as 57 new aircraft by April, but O’Leary fears the airline will now only get 50 by the end of June.

Late last year, the airline said it still expected to carry around 183 million passengers for the 2023/24 financial year but that the final figure remained uncertain due to the continuing delivery delays.

Ryanair also warned that load factors could drop by 1 or 2% in the short term after several online travel agencies suddenly removed Ryanair flights from sale on their websites.

On Monday, the president of Emirates Airlines, Sir Tim Clark, told Bloomberg that he believed Friday’s accident was “another manifestation” of quality control issues at the US aerospace giant.

Clark has previously been highly critical of Boeing because of concerns about the quality of its recent aircraft and, in particular, problems getting the Boeing 777X certified, which has caused a years-long delay in getting the airplane delivered.

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