Dec 3, 2020 - Economy

Boeing gets huge 737 Max order from Ryanair, boosting hope for quick rebound

Ryanair low cost airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen over the runway

Ryanair low cost airline Boeing 737-800 aircraft as seen over the runway. Photo by Nik Oiko/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dublin-based Ryanair said it would add 75 more planes to an existing order for Boeing's 737 Max airplanes, a giant vote of confidence as Boeing seeks to revive sales of its best-selling plane after a 20-month safety ban following two fatal crashes.

The big picture: Ryanair's big order, on the heels of breakthrough vaccine news, is also a promising sign that the devastated airline industry might recover from the global pandemic sooner than expected.

  • "This vaccine came a long a little faster than most folks thought, which means our timeline for recovery is a little more aggressive today" than the three to five years that officials feared back in the spring, Boeing CEO David Calhoun told reporters Thursday.
  • "I am confident that this is a signal of a more robust order book," adding that airlines in the strongest financial position, like Ryanair, would lead that faster recovery.

Details: With the new purchase, RyanAir is bringing its total order for 737 Max planes to 205, worth $22 billion.

  • Michael O'Leary, CEO of the low-cost Irish carrier, has called Boeing jet a "gamechanger" because its design allows the airline to carry more passengers and burn less fuel.
  • Ryanair received a "modest discount" on the new planes, he said, adding that the favorable economics would boost the airline's growth and profitability over the next five years.
  • "Vaccines are coming in the first quarter of next year," an upbeat O'Leary said. "There is going to be a very strong recovery. I have been waiting for this aircraft for 5 years."

Driving the news: United Airlines also announced this week they would use the 737 Max planes in two of its largest hubs starting in 2021. Likewise, American Airlines will start commercial flights on the plane between LaGuardia and Miami in late December.

The bottom line: After what Calhoun called "one tough year," Ryanair delivered a spark of hope.

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