Ryanair Rides to Boeing’s Defense With Potential Plane Order

The Irish budget airline said it might be interested in scooping up a new Boeing model if bigger airlines cancel orders.

Photo of people boarding a Ryanair airplane
Photo by Markus Winkler via Unsplash

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Boeing has an unlikely white knight riding to its rescue. 

Ryanair, European aviation’s answer to the dollar store, has said it will stand by Boeing even if other airlines decide to ostracize its jets. Although the FAA cleared Boeing Max 9 737 jets to fly again, United CEO Scott Kirby said last week that the company was contemplating whether to cancel an order for a new plane from Boeing, the Max 10. 

Golden Ticket

But now, Ryanair is swooping in. On an earnings call Monday, the Irish airline famous for €10 ($10.80) flights said that it would be happy to take any Max 10 aircraft that United might end up not buying. It’s a slightly strange move from an airline that had an otherwise disappointing earnings call:

  • Ryanair lowered its profit outlook for the fiscal year by about 5% on Monday’s call, and partly blamed this on a recent spat with online travel agents including Booking.com, Lastminute, and Kayak. 
  • These “pirate sites,” as Ryanair has dubbed them, removed Ryanair from their services late last year without any official explanation, although the move appeared to be in response to an Irish high court ruling that banned Flightbox, a flight comparison site, from scraping Ryanair’s site for flight times and prices.

Disappearing from travel agent sites resulted in a 1% drop in the number of Ryanair fliers in seats, and other airlines made their tickets cheaper to entice more customers. Sindy Foster, an aviation analyst, said the profit drop isn’t an existential threat for Ryanair, and buying up Boeing Max 10s at a moment when they’re unpopular could prove beneficial in the long run. “A drop in orders for Boeing 737 MAX 10 due to what Ryanair clearly believes is probably a temporary glitch could be used to obtain a cost advantage,” said Foster, adding: “Ryanair has stated it would buy them ‘at the right price,’ that could mean significant costs saved on already budgeted fleet replacement cost in the future.” It’s very on-brand for Ryanair to be on the lookout for a bargain.

Bolt From the Blue: Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the investigation into exactly why the ill-fated Alaska Airlines flight lost its door is reaching a tentative conclusion, namely that some bolts were missing when the door left Boeing’s factory. The same sources also said there had been some gaps in the appropriate paperwork and processes before the door went out into the world. No kidding.