DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair fears it may not take delivery of its first 737 MAX aircraft until after its peak summer period and the Irish airline is “quite upset with Boeing”, Group Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said on Monday.
But he said he believed the production issues would resolve in the medium term and said the Irish airline, Europe’s largest low-cost carrier, was in talks with Boeing about a significant order of the larger, 230-seat, MAX 10 aircraft.
The largest European customer of the MAX with 210 firm orders of the 197-seat MAX200 model, Ryanair in late March said it expected that before summer it would take delivery of 16 of the aircraft, down from an earlier forecast of 40.
But Boeing is now promising the first delivery of the jet, which has been delayed in part due to a recent electrical grounding issue, in late May.
“We are now being told the first delivery will be in late May. I am not sure we necessarily believe that,” O’Leary said in a pre-recorded presentation following the release of the company’s full-year results.
“As the management team in Seattle continues to mismanage that process I think there is a real risk we might not see any of these aircraft in advance of summer 2021,” O’Leary said.
Ryanair was initially due to take delivery of its first MAX two years ago before the jet was grounded for 20 months after two fatal crashes.
The airline has agreed “reasonable and fair” compensation for that delay, it said in its results statement on Monday.
Ryanair is confident it will have 60 of the aircraft in place for the summer of 2022, he said.
Ryanair remains in talks with Boeing for a significant order of the larger MAX 10 aircraft, but “we are not quite there on price yet,” Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said in an interview.
Asked how big such a deal would be, Sorahan said it would cover both fleet renewal and growth in the 2026 to 2030 period.
“We don’t tend to do small deals,” he said.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; editing by Christopher Cushing and Jason Neely)