Ryanair plans rapid expansion as it orders up to 300 new Boeing jets
Multibillion-dollar deal for 737-Max-10s could double capacity at the budget airline and create 10,000 jobs
Ryanair has announced an order for a further 300 aircraft from Boeing, a deal worth $40bn (£32bn) at list prices, which could allow the budget carrier to nearly double passenger capacity over the next decade.
The new Boeing 737-Max-10 aircraft are 10% larger again than the newest fleet of Max planes the Irish carrier has recently introduced from Boeing, which Ryanair called “game changers” for their fuel burn and costs per passenger.
Ryanair has placed a firm order for 150 Max-10 planes with an option for a further 150, to be delivered between 2027 and 2033. The airline said it was the largest order placed by an Irish company for US manufactured goods – although it will have negotiated a significant, undisclosed discount to the official $40bn value. It will be ratified by shareholders in the September annual meeting.
The Max-10 aircraft will replace its older 737NGs and add about 40 seats per plane, significantly increasing its fuel efficiency.
Ryanair said the deal would create more than 10,000 jobs at the airline and allow it to grow its passenger numbers from 168 million to 300 million a year by 2034.
The airline’s group chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “These new, fuel-efficient, greener technology aircraft offer 21% more seats, burn 20% less fuel and are 50% quieter than our B737NGs.
“In addition to delivering significant revenue and traffic growth across Europe, we expect these new, larger, more efficient, greener aircraft to drive further unit cost savings, which will be passed on to passengers in lower airfares. The extra seats, lower fuel burn and more competitive aircraft pricing supported by our strong balance sheet will widen the cost gap between Ryanair and competitor EU airlines for many years to come.”
O’Leary said the airline had not managed to secure quite the same price now for the Max model as in its previous order when it was one of the first non-US customers. Ryanair’s appetite for the model has been undimmed by the two disasters in 2018 and 2019 that killed 346 people in the earlier months of Max’s entry into service, leading to its grounding worldwide for renewed safety checks and certification.
Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, said its partnership with Ryanair was “one of the most productive in commercial aviation history”.
Eddie Wilson, Ryanair’s airline chief executive, said the newest Max models would become “even more important from a sustainability point of view”, adding: “You can’t just change fuel types or systems overnight, the first step is to burn as little fuel and make as little noise as you can.”
He said Ryanair had clear opportunities for future growth: “You’ve got the eastern Mediterranean and some North African countries talking about doubling tourism, there’s plenty of white space in Scandinavia with weak incumbent carriers.”
Wilson said he expected aviation more broadly to pick up, tracking GDP growth “when we come out of the doldrums when hopefully Ukraine has been resolved and it’s a more stable environment in Europe”.