Ryanair says aircraft problems could push summer fares up 10%

Ryanair says aircraft problems could push summer fares up 10%

Ryanair anticipates a potential increase of up to 10% in peak summer airfares across Europe this year, citing challenges faced by aircraft manufacturers Boeing and Airbus, which have left travelers vying for limited seating. This projected hike would compound the significant rise in holiday flight prices witnessed last year post-pandemic, where heightened demand collided with constrained capacity within European airlines.

Michael O’Leary, the chief executive of the Irish budget airline, expressed concerns over potential adjustments to Ryanair’s summer schedules, initially planned around the expected delivery of 50 Boeing Max 737-8200s out of the 57 on order. However, quality control issues at Boeing, exemplified by recent incidents like the midflight fuselage blowout of an Alaska Airlines Max-9, have caused production slowdowns and delayed deliveries.

O’Leary remarked that Ryanair’s summer 2024 schedule was premised on receiving the anticipated number of aircraft. Yet, if the deliveries fall short, adjustments might be necessary, especially on routes with high daily frequencies. He indicated a likelihood of constraints on growth, contributing to a higher fare environment in Europe this summer, albeit not as steep as the 17% increase witnessed in summer 2023, with projections ranging from 5-10%.

The chief executive also attributed the anticipated fare hikes to issues with Pratt & Whitney engines on Airbus A320 planes, leading to groundings at airlines like Wizz Air and Lufthansa. He emphasized the enduring capacity constraints on EU shorthaul flights, operating at only 90% of pre-Covid levels, particularly affecting the A320-dominated European market.

Despite the challenges, O’Leary revealed that Ryanair had been courted by airports offering incentives due to the high demand for aircraft. However, he underscored the need for Boeing to address quality control issues, citing instances of subpar inspections revealing foreign objects beneath floorboards on recent aircraft deliveries.

While O’Leary acknowledged the importance of maintaining safety standards, he echoed the agreement with the US Federal Aviation Administration to cap production rates at Boeing until existing issues are rectified. He emphasized Boeing’s responsibility to address quality control lapses to ensure the integrity of their aircraft.