Ryanair is reportedly on the verge of signing a deal with Boeing to purchase up to 200 additional Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
The Irish low-cost carrier, which has 135 firm Boeing 737 MAXs on order, is looking to increase its order book by another 150-200 aircraft, reported the Irish Independent. The order would be by far the biggest by any airline throughout 2020, as every single carrier suffered throughout the current pandemic-induced crisis.
According to the report, the airline is looking to finalize the contract by the end of the year, as the grounded aircraft inches closer to its return to the skies.
Ryanair was one of the few resilient companies, as it went into the crisis with €2.1 billion ($2.4 billion) of cash reserves as of December 31, 2019. Its latest financial update showcased that its cash reserves stood at €2.8 billion ($3.2 billion) as of June 30, 2020. In addition to vast cash reserves, 333 out of its 439 Boeing 737s are debt-free.
“Boeing are indicating a late Q3 2020 return to service in the US for the B737-MAX, allowing Ryanair to, hopefully, accept delivery of its first MAX-200 before the end of 2020 and potentially up to 40 MAXs ahead of S.2021,” commented the airline on the aircraft’s situation on July 27, 2020.
“We remain committed supporters of these “gamechanger” aircraft.”
In May 2020, the group’s chief executive Michael O’Leary commented that the 737 MAX was key to improving its market position in Europe, as it would “transform Ryanair’s cost base in the next 10 years.”
“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” responded Ryanair to a request for comment.
The Boeing 737 MAX, which was grounded since its second fatal accident in Ethiopia in March 2019, is coming closer to its un-grounding. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) completed its certification test flights, followed by Transport Canada (TC) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in September 2020. Recently, FAA’s administrator Stephen Dickson completed a test flight on the aircraft, after which he commented that he “liked what he saw.”
This would not be the first time that Ryanair utilizes a crisis to its advantage. After the post-9/11 shock, in 2002, the Irish airline ordered 100 new Boeing 737 NextGeneration (NG) aircraft, including 50 options. In its Securities and Exchange Commission filing from 2003, Ryanair stated that “Boeing granted the company certain price concessions” related to the purchase of 100 aircraft in 2002.