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Ryanair risks loss if Boeing 737 Max remains grounded

July 11, 2019

Ryanair's chief executive has said the airline could suffer losses if Boeing's embattled 737 Max planes don't become operational by November. The jets have remained grounded since an Ethiopian Airlines crash in March.

Ryanair planes parked at Frankfurt airport
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/T. Frey

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Europe's Ryanair Holdings, told Reuters news agency that the airline sees risks to its 2020 growth if Boeing Co.'s 737 Max planes remain grounded beyond November.

Ryanair, Europe's largest budget carrier, is liable to wait around eight months for 50 newly built planes that have been left at the factory due to the 737 Max's grounding.

Regulators worldwide grounded Boeing's 737 Max planes in the wake of the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash, which left 157 people dead. That accident followed a similar Lion Air jet crash in Indonesia last October that killed all 189 people on board.

Read more: Boeing to pay $100 million to 737 Max crash families

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair CEO Michael O'LearyImage: picture-alliance/dpa/T. Frey

A problem with the model's anti-stall system is believed to be partly to blame.

"Boeing are telling us at the moment they expect to be back flying by the end of September," O'Leary told Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of the European airlines lobby A4E.

"I think it will fly before the end of this year. I am not sure they will meet the end of September date, but I take comfort from the fact that it seems that now the American, European, Brazilian and Canadian regulators are working together," the head of the Irish low-cost giant added. "The challenge for us is that we need to see the plane back flying by the end of September, October, November at the latest, so as not to disrupt our growth for the summer of 2020."

A Boeing spokesman said the US plane-maker is "continuing to engage with global regulators and providing information to them as [Boeing works] towards the safe return to service for the Max."

Read more: Airbus set to topple Boeing as biggest plane maker

New problems for Boeing

In June, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified a new, as yet unresolved, problem with the Max aircraft.

Boeing was hoping the troubled jet would be back in use by the end of June following encouraging signs from authorities, but the discovery of a new glitch means that a new certification is unlikely before the end of July.

"On the most recent issue, the FAA's process is designed to discover and highlight potential risks. The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate," the FAA said in the statement.

"The FAA will lift the aircraft's prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so," it added.

Boeing said it agreed with authorities and would continue to seek a solution.

"Boeing will not offer the 737 Max for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the Max and its safe return to service," the company said.

Read more: Easyjet, Thomas Cook and Ryanair — Brexit's effect on tourism's big names

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