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Ryanair Says MAX Woes Could Delay Growth Plans By Up To Two Years

Boeing in January said it did not expect the MAX, which was grounded after two fatal crashes, to return to service until mid-2020.

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Ryanair may have to push back its long-term target of flying 200 million passengers per year by as much as two years due to delays in the delivery of Boeing's 737 MAX jet, Europe's largest low-cost carrier said on Monday.

Ryanair, one of the biggest customers of the grounded jet, with 210 on order, hopes to have its first 55 jets flying by summer 2021, a year later than originally planned, with 50 more planes per year in place for the following three summers.

But Chief Executive Michael O'Leary suggested Boeing's delivery schedule could ultimately be up to two years late - meaning it may hit its long-term 200-million passenger target by March 2026 rather than March 2024.

"What is likely is they will push out that delivery profile with Boeing by at least 12 months," O'Leary said in a pre-recorded video presentation in which he was asked about the impact of Boeing's decision to temporarily halt the production of the MAX.

"At best that means we will have to roll forward our plans to fly 200 million passengers per year ... by at least 12 months, possibly 24," he said.

Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan, asked by Reuters if there was any risk to its plans to take delivery of 55 planes by next summer, said: "I don't believe so, but we have been disappointed before."

The executives were speaking after the release of Ryanair's financial results for the three months to the end of December.

Boeing in January said it did not expect the MAX, which was grounded after two fatal crashes, to return to service until mid-2020.

Ryanair, which does not take deliveries during its summer peak of June-August, said on Monday it did not expect to receive the first MAX jets until September or October 2020.

It will take a maximum of eight planes per month, or around 50 deliveries per year, O'Leary said.

The 737 MAX, Boeing's fastest-selling aircraft, was grounded in March after 346 people died in two crashes attributed to the plane's anti-stall software.

(Reuters)


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