By Paul Sandle and Philip Blenkinsop
LONDON/BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Ryanair does not expect to do a deal with Boeing this year on a major new order of 737 MAX jets, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said on Tuesday – but added that he could order up to 250 of the aircraft if the price was lowered.
Ryanair is already the largest European customer for the 737 MAX, with 210 firm orders of the 197-seat MAX 8-200 model. In July it said it might do a deal before the end of the year for a significant order of the 230-seat MAX 10.
But O’Leary told journalists on Tuesday that he would be surprised if agreement was reached before next year.
“I would be hopeful that agreement might be reached in 2022. I mean the rate and pace of negotiation depends on Boeing,” O’Leary told a press briefing in London.
“At the moment I think the balance lies in favour of us because Boeing have recorded remarkably few orders for the aircraft, and they need a couple of large Max 10 orders.”
A large order from Ryanair would provide a major boost to U.S. planemaker Boeing and its MAX, which was grounded for 20 months, up to last November, after two fatal crashes.
European arch-rival Airbus closed a deal with Britain’s Jet2 on Tuesday for 36 A321 neo aircraft worth about $4.9 billion in a blow to Boeing, which has supplied the airline in the past.
In the past he had indicated that that order would be on a similar scale to the 210 jet MAX 8-200 order. But on Tuesday he said he could take up to 250 of the MAX 10.
“In an ideal world … if we can agree on pricing, I would certainly like to see Ryanair continue to grow and expand at the rate of about 50 aircraft a year.” he said. “So over a four or five-year period we should be looking at 200-250 aircraft.”
(Reporting by Paul Sandle in London and Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels; Writing by Conor Humphries; Editing by Mark Potter and Pravin Char)