Ryanair’s Short Honeymoon with Boeing Appears to Be Over

The European budget airline says it will seek compensation due to Boeing not delivering as many planes as promised.

Photo of passengers boarding a Ryanair plane
Photo by Portuguese Gravity via Unsplash

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It’s like Nina Simone says, Boeing: Nobody knows you when you’re down and out. 

Ryanair, previously one of the few airlines to strike an optimistic note about its relationship with Boeing, has suddenly turned hostile. Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said at a Friday press conference that the European budget airline is pursuing compensation from Boeing because it’s not delivering as many planes as promised, and Ryanair said Monday that the lack of Boeing aircraft would mean a 10% spike in summer airfare. 

No Longer BFFs

Boeing attracted the ire of multiple airlines after a tiny, barely-noticed snafu last month when a door blew off one of its 737 Max 9 aircraft. The subsequent regulatory headache, with the FAA temporarily grounding all 737 Max 9 planes, called the company’s overall quality control into question. Ryanair was an outlier, however, making it clear that it considered the plane door gaffe a one-off, and even going so far as to say that if other airlines canceled Boeing orders, it would be happy to snap them up.

Of course, buying up planes no one else wants can be a bargain opportunity — and now Ryanair may sense the chance to get more money out of the ongoing drama:

  • O’Leary said Ryanair is pursuing compensation from Boeing because manufacturing problems have resulted in Boeing not delivering as many 737 Max 9 planes as promised ahead of the busy summer season. O’Leary attributed the manufacturing slowdown to Boeing having the FAA “crawling all over them,” per the BBC.
  •  “Our growth has been constrained because at this point in time we don’t really know how many aircraft we are going to get,” O’Leary said, according to the Financial Times. “I think we will get some modest compensation out of Boeing. But our focus is not getting compensation out of Boeing, our focus is getting the bloody aeroplanes out of them,” he added.

O’Leary had other choice words for the situation at Boeing — we won’t repeat his exact words here, but they rhyme with “hit show.”

Executive Turbulence: Boeing is clearly starting to feel the heat from airline execs like O’Leary, as last week it ousted VP Ed Clark, the executive responsible for its manufacturing operation in Seattle. Clark is being replaced by another Boeing executive, Katie Ringgold, who was previously in charge of deliveries. At least she won’t have to deal with a bunch of angry airlines asking where their planes are anymore. Well, not immediately.