Ryanair has warned there is “a real risk” it will have no Boeing 737 Max planes flying next summer because of further delays to the delivery of the grounded aircraft.
Europe’s biggest carrier is sticking to its plans to cut bases and pilot and cabin crew jobs and said it expected to receive its first 737 Max planes in March or April 2020, two months later than expected. The 737 Max remains grounded worldwide after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
Ryanair’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “We have now reduced our expectation of 30 Max aircraft being delivered to us in advance of peak summer 2020 down to 20 aircraft and there is a real risk of none.”
Ryanair reiterated that this will more than halve its passenger growth rate next summer to 3% from 7%, with the airline carrying 157 million people over the year as a whole rather than 162 million as previously planned.
O’Leary said: “We have already reduced our passenger growth forecast … we may have to cut that again but, frankly, there is no point in keeping on changing the number until we get more certainty.”
Ryanair reported a profit after tax of €1.15bn for the six months to 30 September – its most profitable part of the year and the same result as a year ago. Fares have fallen 5%, while its fuel bill rose 22%. The Irish airline narrowed its profit forecast for the year to the end of March to €800m-€900m from €750m-€950m previously.
Separately, British Airways’ owner, IAG, has agreed to buy Spain’s Air Europa for €1bn to expand routes to Latin America and the Caribbean.
Several smaller airlines have gone bust while others have been taken over, such as the British regional carrier Flybe, which was acquired by a consortium led by Virgin Atlantic earlier this year.