Ryanair has announced its intention to purchase at least 150 Boeing 737 Max 10 planes, with an option to purchase an additional 150 planes, in what is the airline’s largest-ever order. The purchase comes after a pricing dispute derailed negotiations for the order in 2021.
The budget carrier’s plan to operate the Max 10s, which have not yet been certified by regulators, with 228 seats on board, will replace the aging jets in Ryanair’s fleet. This latest order of 150 planes is worth more than $20 billion at list prices, but airlines generally receive significant discounts for such big sales.
Shares in Boeing were up nearly 2% following the announcement, while the broader market was down. The manufacturer’s latest sizable deal for new planes has come as airlines replace aging jets and grow their fleets. This is a welcome development for Boeing, which has been grappling with the aftermath of the two fatal crashes involving the 737 Max in 2018 and 2019.
The planes are expected to be delivered between 2027 and 2033, and Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said that the additional 150 planes could allow the airline to fly more than 300 million passengers a year by 2034 and create 10,000 jobs.
The ultra-low-cost airline flew 97 million passengers in the 12 months ended March 31, down from 149 million before the Covid pandemic, according to a company report. The budget carrier’s order is the latest in a string of big sales for Boeing, which has reached agreements to sell hundreds of planes to customers including Air India, Saudia, and United Airlines in recent months.
However, Boeing’s next challenge is ramping up production of the 737 Max. Last month, the company said it aims to make 38 each month, up from 31. The company plans to open a fourth production line for the best-selling plane and increase rates to 50 a month in 2026.
Supply chain struggles as the Covid-19 pandemic eased have hamstrung both Boeing and Airbus production goals. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said at the joint press conference on Tuesday that current customer demand would support rates “significantly higher” than what the company has planned, but supply chain issues are preventing further expansion. Delivery delays have vexed airline executives who are trying to capitalize on the travel rebound.
Boeing said on Tuesday that it delivered 26 aircraft last month, down from 64 a month earlier. Eighteen of those deliveries were 737 planes. The company had warned that a production flaw on some 737 Max jets would delay deliveries on certain models.
When asked whether Boeing would consider a fifth production line, Calhoun said: “We will be evaluating every step of the way whether we need more capacity or not. If the supply constraints that we experience today… relax somewhat, that day could come, and nothing would make us happier,” Calhoun said.
He said the company expects the 737 Max 10 to be certified in 2024. “We won’t give you a date because that’s not our job; it’ll be the FAA’s,” he said.
O’Leary expressed confidence that the high-density aircraft configuration would win regulatory approval, given the airline’s ultra-low-cost model of attracting travelers with low fares and then add-on fees for everything from seat assignments to checked bags. He also dispelled rumors that the carrier would charge passengers to use bathrooms on board, calling it “a desperate and dastardly rumor”.
In summary, Ryanair’s purchase of at least 150 Boeing 737 Max 10 planes, with options for 150 more, is a significant boost for the manufacturer as it seeks to ramp up production and recover from the setbacks