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'Inexcusable.' Ryanair says it may have to raise fares this summer because of Boeing

Ryanair airplanes on the ground at Brussels Airport after in Zaventem, Belgium early in the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. (Benoit Doppagne/Belga/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource) Ryanair airplanes on the ground at Brussels Airport after in Zaventem, Belgium early in the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. (Benoit Doppagne/Belga/AFP/Getty Images via CNN Newsource)
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Ryanair may be forced to cut flights and raise fares in the peak summer season this year because crisis-hit Boeing can’t deliver the planes it promised.

Michael O’Leary, the CEO of Europe’s biggest airline by passenger numbers, said during a widely-reported press briefing Friday that air fares could rise as much as 10 per cent partly because of delays to aircraft deliveries.

Boeing has been hit by new safety and quality concerns since early January, when a piece of fuselage on a 737 Max 9, operated by Alaska Airlines, blew out mid-flight. Further problems have come to light with some 737s since, disrupting Boeing’s production schedule. It has also postponed certification of two new versions of the jet.

Until recently, Ryanair was expecting Boeing to deliver 57 Max 8-200 planes by the end of April, Reuters reported O’Leary as saying. On Friday, the CEO said he was “pretty sure” the airline would receive between 30 and 40 aircraft, but “far less confident” of getting between 45 and 50.

“We don’t really know how many aircraft we’re going to get from Boeing,” he said, according to Reuters.

A Ryanair spokesperson told CNN that the reports of O’Leary’s media briefing were accurate and that the company had nothing further to add at this time.

If only 40 aircraft are delivered, Ryanair may have to “announce some minor schedule cuts” by the end of March, O’Leary was reported as saying. That could bump up air fares by between 5 per cent and 10 per cent this summer.

Demand for international travel rebounded strongly last year, causing airfares to soar around the world. Ryanair’s Ireland-listed stock has risen 69% since the start of 2023.

“It’s inexcusable. Boeing will try to claim that it’s excusable. I think we (will) get some modest compensation out of Boeing,” O’Leary said. “At the point our focus is getting the bloody airplanes.”

A spokesperson for Boeing (BA) said the company was communicating with customers over changes to its delivery schedule. “We (are taking) the necessary time to make sure that every airplane we deliver is high quality and meets all customer and regulatory requirements.”

“We deeply regret the impact this is having on our valued customer Ryanair. We’re working to address their concerns and taking action on a comprehensive plan to strengthen 737 quality and delivery performance.”

O’Leary’s comments come nearly a month after he expressed “a lot of confidence” in Boeing’s leadership. He praised efforts by David Calhoun and Brian West, Boeing’s CEO and chief financial officer respectively, to turn the company around. “I think safety is their number one byword,” he said in a video posted on Ryanair’s website.

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