Ryanair 737 MAX Delivery Delayed; Airline To Appeal Against State Funds Injected Into New Alitalia And Double The Size Of Its Base At Rome Fiumicino
Ryanair may decline to accept delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX jet until after the summer following a delay caused by paperwork related to a version of the jet designed for the airline, a senior executive has said.
The Irish airline, which is the largest European customer for the MAX, is still waiting for Boeing to provide a date for the delivery of its first jet, a 197-seat MAX200, and will decide then if it can take it during its busy summer season, the executive said.
"We need a definitive date as to when we're going to get the airplane and then we've got to decide...whether that suits us to take them or not because in the normal course of events we don't take aircraft in the summer months," said Eddie Wilson, chief executive of Ryanair DAC, the main airline in the Ryanair Group.
Speaking to Reuters in an interview, Wilson said that the delay is related to paperwork required for the MAX200 model, which has an extra door to allow more passengers than the standard model, and appeared to hinge on the relationship between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration.
"The release of that aircraft...has to do with a fairly straightforward issue. And it's how the interface between Boeing and the FAA is going to work in matters like that and they have to iron that out once and for all," Wilson said.
"It's really up to Boeing at Seattle to bed in that relationship with the FAA in dealing with issues of certification and how they have to do things differently. That's what it looks like," he said.
When asked about the comments, a Boeing spokesperson responded, "We continue to work closely with Ryanair to deliver their first 737-8-200s."
Ryanair was initially due to take delivery of its first MAX two years ago before the jet was grounded for 20 months after two fatal crashes.
Since then, the airline has announced repeated delays, cutting its planned deliveries in time for use in summer 2021 from 40 to 16 to possibly zero.
Last month, group chief executive Michael O'Leary said that he was upset with Boeing and did "not necessarily believe" a promise from the US firm to deliver the first plane before the end of May.
Appeal Against State Funds Injected Into New Alitalia
In other Ryanair news, Ryanair will appeal against funds made available to the government-owned Italian airline that will replace Alitalia as it considers them illegal state support, Wilson has said.
"As soon as this money will be injected in the newco we will take the (due) steps," Wilson told Italian daily newspaper la Repubblica in an interview.
"We are waiting to see, but it is clear that it is illegal aid and we will defend our interest by appealing against this umpteenth loan," he added.
Italy is close to a deal with the European Commission to launch Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA), which was initially expected to start flying again in April.
Under the relaunch, the government plans to inject €3 billion into ITA, which would take over the assets of the old Alitalia.
"I have the impression that there's nothing new, ITA will just be the extension of Alitalia...with the same problems seen for decades, money being drained from public resources into an airline that today, like yesterday, will lose money," Wilson said.
Last week, Ryanair urged the EU to require ITA to bid competitively for Alitalia's airport slots. Ryanair has made no secret of its interest in picking up Alitalia slots.
The EU competition watchdog is reviewing past and present Italian state aid to Alitalia, with a decision expected in coming weeks.
Under EU state aid rules, there needs to be economic discontinuity between ITA and Alitalia for Brussels to allow Rome to inject the funds into the new carrier.
Rome Fiumicino Base Size Increase
Additionally, Ryanair has announced that it will double the number of planes that it has based at Rome-Fiumicino Airport, which is the main hub of struggling rival Alitalia.
Ryanair will increase the number of planes that it has based at the airport from three to six this summer, it said. The airline will base 14 Boeing 737 jets in Rome between Fiumicino and Ciampino airports for the summer season.