Ryanair ordered an additional 135 Boeing 737s to add to its fleet this year, and a further 58 were to be added by next summer. However, due to the worldwide grounding of the aircraft that followed the tragic plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia – killing 346 people – Boeing has been forced to take the model off the market until further investigations have convinced authorities that modifications made to the aircraft will ensure its safety and airworthiness.
There is talk of rebranding the aircraft: recent images from the Boeing factory have shown Ryanair’s aircraft branded 737 8200, rather than 737 MAX, and this is likely a plan set out to curb the negative connotations associated with the plane. But still, the fleet is unlikely to be ready until early 2020, and as such, it has been reported that Ryanair will fly five million fewer passengers than planned next year.
In addition, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O’Leary explained that the delay in aircraft deliveries would likely mean some base closures over the winter period: “That will have ramifications for pilots and cabin crew, and we will have to enter into intensive negotiations with our people and unions,” he added.
In line with the delay, the airline has announced that it will be cancelling flights and the website has confirmed that passengers due to travel on flights that have been cancelled are entitled to a refund or can change their flight free of charge. Otherwise, Ryanair will look into flying customers to alternative airport or booking customers onto alternative flights with other airlines.
Still, for those who have booked accommodation, car hire or a package travel deal, there’s only so much compensation that Ryanair can offer. Travel insurance will be the saving grace for many that will face travel disruption as a result of the Boeing 737 groundings.