Bargain-basement Boeings on Ryanair’s radar amid slowing demand

Irish low-cost carrier has hundreds of new jetliners on order but chief executive O'Leary says it is keeping its wallet open in case prices start to tumble.

Ryanair could snap up more Boeing 737s should other carriers shy away from orders amid softening demand, the chief executive Michael O’Leary said.

Ryanair is interested in sourcing extra single-aisle planes, even though it has 115 current generation 737-800s due for delivery over the next few years followed by 100 updated 737 Max 200s arriving from 2019, and is also exploring a further Max order.

“If additional slots became available in 2017 or 2018 we’d happily take them,” Mr O’Leary said in London. “If Boeing have more cancellations and all of a sudden instead of having oversold their order book they now have unplaced aircraft, I’m sure they’ll come back to us.”

The additional planes would replace some of Ryanair’s older 737-800s, he said, adding that the carrier struck a similar deal for 15 surplus 800s earlier this decade, taking delivery in 2014 and 2015. Boeing does not comment on client discussions, said the spokesman Doug Alder.

Ryanair is meanwhile continuing talks with Boeing over exercising options for 100 more Max 200s, a higher density upgrade of the 737-800 for which the Dublin-based company is the launch customer. A final decision on a follow-on order does not need to be taken until 2018, Mr O’Leary said.

With Boeing and Airbus each accelerating production of their single-aisle jets to about 60 a month by the end of the decade from 42 now, Ryanair could expect to get hefty discounts if deferrals and cancellations increase.

“It all depends on the price; if we could get them for free we would take a huge amount,” Mr O’Leary quipped.

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