LONDON – The CEO of Europe's busiest airline, Ryanair, said Monday that his airline is interested in revising orders for Boeing 737 Max jets to get a new, larger version of the plane.
Michael O'Leary said his airline has submitted an offer to Boeing for an undisclosed number of Boeing Max 10 jets, a 230-seat version of the plane that has been grounded around the world since March. O'Leary suggested that discussions with Boeing will not be completed until the Max returns to service and Boeing resumes production.
Boeing installed a new CEO last month, and O'Leary said Boeing's new management team “is not yet in a position to be able to talk to us about a new order. We understand that, but we have the offering and we expect to be at the head of the queue."
O'Leary said pricing of the Max will need to change to reflect the damage that two crashes did to its reputation.
“There is no doubt we will have passengers who would be nervous to fly on the Max when we do take delivery of the aircraft,” said O'Leary, who called it a great plane that will transform Ryanair over the next 10 years with its better fuel mileage.
O'Leary made the comments on a call with analysts as Ryanair released financial results and said the grounding of its Max 200s, which have around 200 seats, will delay its growth targets.
The budget carrier, which is based in Ireland and carries more passengers than any other airline in Europe, plans to extend by a year or two its target of flying 200 million people per year.
It now expects to make that target in 2025 or the year after.
The 737 Max was grounded worldwide in March after two crashes within five months killed 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Chicago-based Boeing is updating the plane to improve safety and said last month that it doesn't expect U.S. regulators to approve its changes until this summer.
Ryanair said it does not expect to take deliveries of the jets until September or October, after the busy summer travel period.
Like many airlines, Ryanair had been hoping to boost business with the 737 Max. The plane can provide more seats while burning less fuel, which makes up for a large part of the cost of flying the plane.