The budget airline shows support for Boeing and its series of manufacturing crises while forecasting a fall in profits of its own.
Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary has said his company will buy Boeing 737 MAX 10 aircraft “at the right price” if US airlines backtrack on their orders.
The offer comes after a major incident on one of the 737 MAX 9 planes earlier this month, when a cabin panel blew out during an Alaska Airlines flight.
Although the mishap caused no casualties, it has brought Boeing under heavy regulatory scrutiny.
Last week, the Federal Aviation Authority blocked Boeing from expanding production of its best-selling, single-aisle 737 MAX, after temporarily grounding the planes.
United Airlines has also raised doubts over future orders of Boeing’s 737 MAX 10, as CEO Scott Kirby recently met competitor Airbus.
“I think the MAX 9 grounding is probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for us,” Kirby said in an interview with CNBC.
The technical failure earlier this month is only the most recent safety issue for Boeing, after two MAX 8 jets crashed in 2018 and 2019.
Yet, despite, a turbulent time for the plane manufacturer, Irish airline Ryanair has emerged as its defender.
O’Leary on Monday said Scott Kirby’s comments were “not helpful”, adding: “If United or any other airlines don’t want to take their MAX 10 orders, we will be happy to step in.”
Ryanair is expecting the delivery of 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft before the summer and, by 2032, Ryanair plans to receive 300 Boeing MAX 10 aircrafts.
First deliveries of the MAX 10 are planned for 2027 or later, but O’Leary said an earlier date could be negotiated if the manufacturer loses out on deals with competitors.
When asked about Ryanair’s loyalty to Boeing, the airline’s chief financial officer (CFO) Neil Sorahan said he was not concerned about being overly reliant.
“I think the MAX is a great aircraft,” he explained. “We’re very keen to get our hands on as many of the 8200s (MAX 8) and the 10s as we grow over the next few years.”
A bumpy year ahead for Ryanair?
Ryanair’s support of Boeing comes at a time when its own profit expectations are being scaled down.
The airline on Monday cut its forecasts for the year to the end of March, changing the profit after tax outlook from an upward figure of €2.05 billion to €1.95 billion.
At the same time, the company reported a lower-than-expected €15 million profit for the last three months of 2023.
Ryanair blamed the shrinking figures on higher fuel costs while also pointing a finger at travel sites that recently decided to remove Ryanair flights from their pages.
Before the Alaska Airlines incident, travel agents such as Kiwi, Booking.com, and Kayak suddenly stopped showing Ryanair bookings in their listings.
The reason for the removal is unclear, but the airline said it may be linked to a recent Irish High Court ruling, which banned the website Flightbox from gathering Ryanair flight information for online travel agents.
Despite this, CFO Neil Sorahan told Reuters that the effect of being delisted would be temporary, with effects already starting to “fizzle out”.