In an update to investors, the airline revealed that it expects to carry around five million fewer passengers next year as a result of the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
Its CEO Michael O’Leary revealed the airline is in talks with airports and unions to decide which ‘under-performing’ or ‘loss-making’ bases to close.
The airline had expected to receive 58 new MAX aircraft for summer 2020, but since the aircraft remains grounded following two fatal crashes, resulting in the deaths of 346 people, it is now only expecting to receive up to 30 by the end of May 2020.
This number could rise or fall, depending on when the Boeing 737 MAX actually returns to service, it said.
O’Leary said in a statement that the airline remains committed to the MAX aircraft, and expects it will return to service before the end of 2019.
“However, the exact date of this return remains uncertain. Boeing is hoping that a certification package will be submitted to regulators by September with a return to service shortly thereafter,” he said.
“We believe it would be prudent to plan for that date to slip by some months, possibly as late as December. As Ryanair have ordered the Boeing MAX200s, which are a variant of the MAX aircraft, these need to be separately certified by the FAA and EASA.
“Ryanair expects that the MAX200 will be approved for flight services within two months of the MAX return to service.
“Accordingly, Ryanair now hopes to receive its first MAX200 aircraft sometime between January and~February 2020.” O’Leary said that since Ryanair can only take delivery of six to eight aircraft a month, it is planning its summer 2020 schedules based on taking up to 30 B737 MAX by the end of May, 28 less than originally planned.
“This will cut Ryanair’s summer 2020 growth rate from 7% to 3%, and means full year traffic growth for the year to March 2021 will be cut from 162 million guests to approximately 157 million.
“This shortfall in aircraft deliveries will necessitate some base cuts and closures for summer 2020, but also for the winter 2019 schedule.
“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.”