Ryanair Takes Possession Of Its First 737 MAX Jet After Delay Of More Than Two Years; Sues UK Over Travel Curbs; Opens Base At Turin Airport
Ryanair has taken possession of its first Boeing 737 MAX jet after a delay of more than two years, saying that it will have 12 of the "gamechanger" aircraft in time for this year's summer peak.
The Irish airline is the largest European customer for the jet, which was grounded for 20 months after two fatal crashes, with 210 firm orders of the 197-seat MAX200 model.
Ryanair was initially due to take delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX two years ago
"We are delighted to take delivery of our first new technology Gamechanger aircraft," Group chief executive Michael O'Leary said in an e-mailed statement.
The aircraft registered to Ryanair landed in Dublin after the airline took possession of it in Seattle.
Ryanair said that it expects to take delivery of 12 Boeing 737-8200s this summer, with six delivered in Ryanair colours and six in Malta Air colours. It expects an additional 50 to be delivered before summer 2022.
The airline has announced repeated delays to the arrival of the jet in its fleet, cutting its planned deliveries in time for use in summer 2021 from 40 to 16 to possibly zero.
In May, Ryanair said that it feared that it would not take delivery of the first 737 MAX aircraft until after its peak summer period and that the airline was "quite upset with Boeing".
Ryanair Sues UK Over Travel Curbs
In other Ryanair news, the airline is launching a legal challenge against the UK over its "traffic light" system for international travel, hoping to force a relaxation of strict rules that threaten the summer holiday season.
The airline has teamed up with Manchester Airports Group (MAG) and the pair have filed legal papers at England's High Court to seek clarity over the transparency of the system, a MAG spokesperson said.
Other airlines are expected to join the legal action.
With just weeks before the peak July and August travel season when most profits are made, the aviation industry is worried about losing another summer to COVID-19 as the UK government blocks most travel, meaning more job losses and financial strain.
The industry has repeatedly criticised the government's traffic light system for international destinations, saying it is unpredictable and doesn't make scientific sense. It says some low risk countries and islands should be open for travel.
A government spokesperson said that it cannot comment on legal proceedings.
"We recognise this is a challenging period for the sector, as we seek to balance the timely reopening of international travel while safeguarding public health and protecting the vaccine rollout," the government said in a statement.
The UK allowed vacations again from May after months of lockdown but discourages travel to popular holiday destinations such as Spain, France, Greece and the United States, classifying them as "amber" under its traffic light system.
This means travellers must quarantine for 10 days on their return and take multiple COVID-19 tests. Only a handful of places are classified as green, and none in the European Union after Portugal was removed at short notice earlier in June.
The court papers will argue the UK government should clearly explain how it makes decisions on categorising countries, given the "dramatic" impact these decisions have on the aviation industry.
"The current opaque way that decisions are being made is undermining consumer confidence to book summer holidays and makes it impossible for airports, airlines and other travel companies to plan for the recovery of international travel," the companies said in a statement to Reuters.
The aviation industry had been counting on UK residents to be at the forefront of the resumption in travel, given that the country has one of the fastest vaccine rollouts in the world.
News by Reuters, edited by Hospitality Ireland.
New Base At Turin Airport
Additionally, Ryanair has opened a base at Turin Airport.
The airline stated on its website, "Ryanair [has] opened its 16th Italian base at Turin with two based aircraft - an investment of $200m - and 32 routes connecting Turin, both domestically & internationally, to 13 countries across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
"Ryanair's new Turin base will deliver:
- Two based aircraft ($200m investment), 60 direct jobs
- 18 new routes (16 international / two domestic) for the winter season
- 32 routes in total (23 international / nine domestic)
- Connections to winter holiday destinations such as Lanzarote, Malta, Mallorca and Marrakech, city breaks to Copenhagen, Budapest, London and Paris as well as domestic connections to Palermo, Naples and Bari.
- Over 123 departing flights per week."
In a statement published on Ryanair's website, Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson said, "We are delighted to open our 16th Italian base which represents a $200 million investment at Turin Airport, with over 30 destinations to choose from this winter, including 18 new connections. We have enjoyed a great partnership with this airport since our first ever flight from London Stansted to Turin in 1999 and we are very pleased to continue growing in the region after 22 successful years."
In a statement also published on Ryanair's website, Turin Airport CEO Andrea Andorno said, "After difficult months, today is a very special day for Turin Airport and the whole of Piedmont. It is a great satisfaction to announce the opening of the Ryanair base from November 1, 2021, a fundamental step in our collaboration with the Irish company, which historically has always been profitable for both the airport and the territory.
"With these first two based aircraft, the airport will be able to immediately and significantly expand its offer of connections, thus creating the network from/to Turin with the highest number of destinations ever served.
"This is a strategic opportunity that was strongly desired in order to overcome the contingent crisis linked to the pandemic as soon as possible and look towards an increasingly international future for Turin and Piedmont."
The above news about Ryanair's new Turin Airport base follows news that Ryanair and Wizz Air are bulking up on Italy's domestic routes as well as news that Ryanair and Wizz Air are showing the biggest growth in flights in Europe.
Article by Dave Simpson. Click subscribe to sign up for the Hospitality Ireland print edition.