Budget airline Ryanair has been facing problems with crew strikes over the last few years. More issues restricting Ryanair’s operations are coming due to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft for the foreseeable future.
How does the Boeing 737 Max grounding affect Ryanair?
Ryanair had ordered more than 50 of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft to expand their fleet between spring 2019 and summer 2020. However, none of them had even been delivered yet when the aircraft was grounded in March 2019. This occurred following the second of two fatal crashes due to a software flaw unique to the plane. Even if they receive delivery of some of the planes, they are banned from flying until they are certified as safe. It is unlikely that this will happen until the end of the year, affecting flight plans for airlines.
Ryanair is just one of many airlines that are having to cancel flights and reconsider expansion plans following delays with the unsafe aircraft from Boeing. Ryanair has actually ordered a variant of the Boeing 737 Max called the Max200, which will require separate safety certification. This could take even longer before the planes are approved and ready to be delivered. Now Ryanair is not expecting to receive their first group of Max200 planes until early 2020. This will affect Ryanair flights from this winter to next summer.
What is happening to Ryanair flights in 2019 – 2020?
The delays with Boeing aircraft are now forcing Ryanair to revise its flight schedules. Their previous predictions for growth are likely to fall by at least 4% next summer. This means that until they receive the new aircraft and can meet the demand for flights, Ryanair is going to have to reduce their flight plans. Thousands of less popular routes will face cuts. Though they expect to return to normal scheduled growth by the end of next year, the airline is also expecting to cancel around 30,000 flights in the meantime.
Ryanair is optimistic in thinking that the Boeing 737 Max will return to the skies by the end of 2019, and the Max200 variant will follow within a couple of months. Due to the severity of the incidents involving the Boeing 737 Max so far, regulators cannot risk allowing the aircraft to resume flying without 100% confidence in the safety of its systems and eradication of those faults. If the Boeing 737 Max remains grounded for longer than anticipated, then this could result in further losses and cancellations for airlines like Ryanair.
Why will Ryanair have to cancel flights?
The delays with their Boeing order means that Ryanair will end up with a smaller fleet than planned. They are likely to have to extend leases and delay sales on current aircraft in their fleet. Even if they do, the shortfall means that Ryanair will have to close some bases over the winter. They will also have to cancel some flights so that they can dedicate the planes that they do have to the most popular routes. This could affect flights that have already been sold for departures between winter 2019 and summer 2020.
Ryanair is now looking at which bases they may have to close temporarily and is no longer recruiting. There is a surplus of around 300 pilots, which means that Ryanair is offering job shares and unpaid leave over the winter. Ryanair will have to negotiate with staff and relevant unions over closures, which are likely to begin taking effect from November 2019. Even when the aircraft begin to be delivered from Boeing, Ryanair can only introduce up to 8 of them per month, so it will take even longer. On top of Brexit causing uncertainty among holidaymakers and increasing oil prices, limited flights could mean that the flights that do go ahead have higher prices for tickets.