Ireland’s flagship airline carrier, and one of Europe’s most budget-friendly flights, Ryanair, recently announced its 2020 flight schedule. The airline carrier, which commissioned Boeing to build aeroplanes for its fleet, has confirmed that the furore over the Boeing 737 Max 200 flights – a variant of the 737 Max – will keep the airline grounded for much longer than anticipated.
In September 2018, a Boeing 737 Max flight owned by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed right after taking off from Jakarta, killing each of the 189 passengers and crew aboard. Just a few months after the fatality, another Boeing 737 Max flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed en-route from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Nairobi in Kenya. All 157 passengers and crew on board died on impact, including Micheál Ryan, an Irish engineer.
Investigations revealed that the source of both casualties was the faulty Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, which affected the flight’s sensors.
The USA and Europe ban flying of the 737 Max 200 until further checks
Following the second crash, the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency banned the operation of all Boeing Max 737’s in the US and Europe airspace. So far, neither of the agencies has made any move to re-certify the Boeing 737 Max 200. This has caused severe problems for the Irish budget carrier.
According to statements by company officials, the ban may prevent Ryanair from procuring enough inventory by the Summer 2020 holiday season. Based on statements given by Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary, the company expects that just 20 out of the 58 ordered 737 Max 200 aircraft might reach them by March/April 2020. This is expected to increase the number of delays and flight disruptions in the coming year.
Profits continue to plummet
2019 hasn’t been such a great year of Ryanair, notwithstanding the grounding of the 737 Max 200. Although its annual passenger traffic increased by 11% from 2018, the airline saw a meagre 1% increase in revenues. The shortage of aircraft is expected to lead to a decrease in forecasted passenger carrier rates and profits for the company in 2020 too.
Instead of flying the 162 million passengers, as previously estimated, company officials believe they will have the capacity to support only 157 million passengers during the summer of 2020. This is expected to bring down passenger growth rate from the expected 7% to a paltry 3%.
Adding to this is the poor performance of the airline’s Austrian subsidiary – Laudamotion GmbH (Lauda). These losses are expected to add further financial woes to the already cash-stretched company.
However, despite having doubts about lifting the 737 Max ban in Europe and America, Ryanair officials believe that their remainder fleet can help them see higher traffic during the latter half of 2020.
In related news, the Ryanair hanger was recently photographed housing Boeing flights that resembled the 737 Max 200 but bearing the name 737-8200. Industry insiders believe this is a strategy the airline has adopted to disassociate itself from the 737 Max brand and to bring in a fresh face to the market once the ban lifts.