Ryanair CEO wants Boeing to pay his budget airline compensation after Alaska Airlines incident puts summer travel season under threat

Connie Queline

Ryanair CEO wants Boeing to pay his budget airline compensation after Alaska Airlines incident puts summer travel season under threat

Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline by passenger volumes, is starting to reel from the impact of Boeing’s safety scrutiny after a panel fell out from one of its Alaska Airline airplanes in January.  

The budget airline’s CEO Michael O’Leary has slammed Boeing for being a manufacturing “shit show” as potential delays in aircraft deliveries for the summer could mean bad news. 

Ryanair initially expected 57 Boeing 737 Max jets by June, but the airline’s CEO isn’t so sure anymore. 

“Our growth has been constrained because at this point in time we don’t really know how many aircraft we’re going to get from Boeing,” O’Leary said during a private media briefing on Friday, according to the Financial Times.

The Irish group operated 3,000 flights weekly last summer. But this time around, it could be forced to cut flights and hike fares by as much as 10% in response to cope with the season’s demand. 

The Ryanair chief is also looking to be compensated by Boeing as the delays persist with aircraft deliveries, hurting its ability to service passengers during peak travel season.  

“Boeing would try to claim that it’s excusable. 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,” O’Leary said.

Impact of Boeing scrutiny 

Boeing has been caught in the eye of a storm surrounding the safety of its airplanes following the Alaska Airlines mishap last month. It resulted in a halt in the expansion of its 737-9 Max aircraft’s production and hundreds of flight cancellations. Alaska Airlines has also demanded a reimbursement from Boeing as the grounded Boeing jets could amount to a loss of at least $150 million, the company said last month.     

Ryanair’s O’Leary has said in the last few weeks that he’s confident about Boeing’s top executives steering the company through its safety crisis, but at the same time, has been vocal about the airline’s delay being “inexcusable.” 

“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,” a Boeing spokesperson told Fortune in a statement Monday. 

The growing scrutiny over Boeing has direct implications for Ryanair as it’s a big customer of the Seattle-based aircraft-maker, ordering more than 350 Max jets in recent years. At one point, O’Leary offered to buy up extra 737 Max 10s if there were no takers in the U.S. 

The company has set a lofty goal of expanding the number of passengers it services in the next 10 years to 300 million—up from 183.5 million expected for the current fiscal year ending in March. O’Leary warned that the impact of the Boeing crisis could be seen in passenger volumes the next year, according to the FT.  

Ryanair lowered its profit forecast by nearly 5%, owing to fuel costs and travel websites that removed its flight listings following a long-drawn spat.

Representatives at Ryanair declined to comment beyond O’Leary’s remarks. 

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