Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, is buying 75 more Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, with the aircraft set to return to commercial flights after two fatal crashes.
Ryanair had already agreed to buy 135 Boeing 737 MAX jets, so the additional order takes the value of the deal to more than US$22 billion.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 18 November certified the Boeing 737 MAX to return to the skies after it was grounded in March 2019.
Thank you @Ryanair for placing an order for 75 additional 737 MAX airplanes. With more than 450 737s in the Ryanair fleet we are humbled by your continued trust and confidence in the Boeing team and the 737 family.
— The Boeing Company (@Boeing) December 3, 2020
“Ryanair’s board and people are confident that our customers will love these new aircraft. Passengers will enjoy the new interiors, more generous leg room, lower fuel consumption and quieter noise performance. And, most of all, our customers will love the lower fares, which these aircraft will enable Ryanair to offer starting in 2021 and for the next decade, as Ryanair leads the recovery of Europe’s aviation and tourism industries,” said Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary in a joint statement.
O’Leary and Ryanair leaders joined the Boeing team for a signing ceremony in Washington, D.C. in the US. Both companies acknowledged COVID-19’s impacts on air traffic in the short-term, but expressed confidence in the resilience and strength of the passenger demand over the long-term.
“As soon as the COVID-19 virus recedes – and it likely will in 2021 with the rollout of multiple effective vaccines – Ryanair and our partner airports across Europe will – with these environmentally efficient aircraft – rapidly restore flights and schedules, recover lost traffic and help the nations of Europe recover their tourism industries, and get young people back to work across the cities, beaches and ski resorts of the European Union,” O’Leary added.
The 737 MAX is the fourth generation of the Boeing 737 and the MAX-8200 variant is Ryanair’s high-capacity version. Tragically, the 737 MAX 8 plane nosedived after take-off in two crashes, killing 346 people. The cause for Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 disasters has been attributed to flaws in automated flight software.
A US congressional report last month said Boeing’s rush to production, a decision to ignore internal safety concerns and concealment of key changes to the plane, including pilot training needs, contributed to the accidents. It also faulted the FAA for oversight lapses, including “excessive delegation to Boeing”, BBC News reported.
“We are gratified that Ryanair is once again placing its confidence in the Boeing 737 family and building their future fleet with this enlarged firm order,” said Dave Calhoun, President and CEO of The Boeing Company.
“Boeing remains focused on safely returning the full 737 fleet to service and on delivering the backlog of airplanes to Ryanair and our other customers. We firmly believe in this airplane, and we will continue the work to re-earn the trust of all of our customers.”
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is yet to give the Boeing 737 MAX approval to return to service.