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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.

Go deeper

Jul 10, 2020 - Economy & Business

Airline recovery falters before it even gets off the ground

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Any hope for a rebound in air travel this year has vanished, with coronavirus cases surging in much of the U.S. and some states imposing quarantines to keep visitors away.

Why it matters: The airline industry is already suffering the worst crisis in its history. The soaring infection rates mean planes will be grounded even longer, putting tens of thousands of people out of work in the coming months.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds — Omicron pushes COVID deaths toward 2,000 per day — The pandemic-proof health care giant.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Starbucks drops worker vaccine or test requirement after SCOTUS ruling — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America.
  3. Politics: Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies — Federal judge blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for federal workers.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults.
  5. Variant tracker

Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates

A teacher prepares a hallway barrier to help students maintain social distancing at John B. Wright Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, on Aug. 14, 2020. Photo: Cheney Orr/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) filed a lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration for ordering the state to stop allocating federal COVID relief funds to schools that don't comply with public health recommendations such as masking, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The Treasury Department said last week that the state would have to pay back the money if Ducey does not redesignate the $173 million programs to ensure they don't "undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19."