(Photo – Virginia Mayo/AP)

Earlier this week Ryanair’s CEO was his usual loquacious self.   Mr O’Leary has been at this growth phase for a long time and has a successful track record to show for it. But every bubble must burst and we suspect that Mr O’Leary’s growth bubble is about to do just that.

For some years now he has been trying to secure another large airplane order from Boeing. His last order came in right after 9/11 when Boeing was rightfully concerned about its backlog and order book and gave Ryanair a deal – but it was a once in a  lifetime situation. Those dark days have been replaced by other scary news, like oil prices. Bad as these are they are nowhere near as terrifying as the aftermath of 9/11.

Boeing has rebuffed Ryanair’s interest in more 737s at ridiculous prices. We can hint that they are paying under $25m per (in 2001 dollars). Considering American and Delta are paying 25% more for orders the size Mr O’Leary is talking about you can readily see why Boeing is not playing ball.

In the FT article we see once again the threats of speaking to China and Russia about airplanes. Airbus, as long as John Leahy is chief salesman, will not entertain offering Ryanair anything. Indeed, given Airbus’ A320 order book they don’t need to be giving anyone discounts at all.

So where else can Mr O’Leary turn?  A while back (at the Paris Air Show) Ryanair announced they were working with COMAC on the C919.  No news since then. Now we see mention of IRKUT.  Both COMAC and IRKUT would like a big order. But are they desperate for one from Ryanair?  Probably not. As much as they would like such volume Mr O’Leary has shown himself to be an unusually demanding customer.  There are other demanding airline customers that OEMs have to deal with it’s true. But there is nobody in Mr O’Leary’s league.

Imagine being in a market where, with buckets of cash (Ryanair paid a dividend of €500m last year – how many airlines pay dividends?), an open desire to by up to 300 airplanes; yet Airbus and Boeing won’t go there.  Wariness by COMAC and IRKUT are well placed. One wonders if they will succumb to Mr O’Leary’s dulcet tones.  His last bite at Boeing and rebuff of Airbus are industry legend – we are certain the new players in the market paid careful attention.

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