Ryanair is still counting on having 50 Boeing MAX 8-200s delivered before the summer of 2021, in addition to some 5 to 8 aircraft by late this year. The Irish low-cost is now a year behind the original delivery schedule and had hoped to have 55 aircraft ready for the coming summer season.

Michael O’Leary has recently been to Chicago to meet the new Boeing management under David Calhoun. Like all airlines, Ryanair is dependent on regulators to decide on the re-entry into service of the MAX. If this is approved by June, O’Leary expects it will take at least two to three months for the 8-200 version to receive type certification and enter the fleet. The need for simulator training will slow deliveries until September/October at the earliest. Ryanair is capable of taking delivery of a maximum of eight new aircraft a month, but five until January seems more realistic.

Even without the new aircraft in the fleet, Ryanair recorded a successful Q3 FY2020. Passenger numbers grew 6 percent to 35.9 million at a load factor of 96 percent, a plus of one percent. Especially the Christmas and New Year period showed good booking at higher fares.
Revenues were up 21 percent to EUR 1.91 billion mainly due to strong ancillary revenues. Profit after tax was EUR 88 million, a huge improvement after a 66 million loss in Q3 FY19.

Long term, the delayed deliveries of the MAX will hurt Ryanair’s guidance. It expects to fly 154 million passengers this financial year that ends March 31. The plan was to hit 200 million by FY2024 but this will likely shift towards FY25 of FY26. Ryanair has closed seven bases during the winter season, but this summer will open 111 new routes again. The lack of new aircraft that are expected to be 16 percent cheaper to operate compared to the 737NGs will result in higher costs. In Q4, (staff) costs were up one percent, but the airline says it has benefited from lower oil prices and is 90 percent hedged on fuel at $60 a barrel for FY21.

LaudaMotion losses rise
Ryanair’s subsidiaries are showing diffuse results. LaudaMotion has been loss-making in Q4 and will show a full-year loss of EUR 90 million, 10 million higher than previously announced. Intense competition in Vienna from Austrian and Eurowings is one reason, but the airline also suffered high maintenance costs as two Airbus A320s had to be grounded for some time with technical issues. Lauda will grow its fleet from 25 to 36 this summer. A cost-cutting program is being implemented to improve the airline’s situation.

Polish subsidiary Buzz will grow to 50 aircraft this summer, of which some will operate on behalf of Ryanair DAC. Buzz too will get MAX 8 200s, with three aircraft already painted and in storage.
Malta Air will grow to 150 aircraft as it takes over Ryanair bases in Malta, Italy, France, and Germany.

Earlier in January, Ryanair revised its full-year profit guidance from EUR 0.95 billion to 1.05 billion thanks to the strong December month. The airline will announce its FY21 guidance in April.

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Richard Schuurman
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Active as journalist since 1987, starting with regional newspaper Zwolse Courant. Grand Prix reporter in 1997 at Dutch monthly Formule 1, general reporter Lelystad/Flevoland at De Stentor/Dagblad Flevoland, from 2002 until June 2021 radio/tv reporter/presentor with Omroep Flevoland.
Since mid-2016 freelance aviation journalist, since June 2021 fully dedicated to aviation. Reporter/editor AirInsight since December 2018. Contributor to Airliner World, Piloot & Vliegtuig. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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