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Ryanair places its biggest order ever for Boeing aircraft

<i>Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images</i><br/>Ryanair has agreed to buy 150 new Boeing 737-10 aircrafts.
NurPhoto via Getty Images
Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto/Getty Images
Ryanair has agreed to buy 150 new Boeing 737-10 aircrafts.

By Hanna Ziady, CNN

Ryanair has agreed to buy 150 new Boeing 737-10 aircraft, and taken options on 150 more, inking the largest order ever placed by an Irish company for US manufactured goods.

The deal is worth $40 billion at list prices, Ryanair said in a statement Tuesday, which contained none of the sharp criticism that CEO Michael O’Leary has previously leveled at Boeing because of delays in delivering aircraft the airline had ordered.

Boeing’s share price gained more than 3% in New York. Ryanair was up 2%.

The planes, the largest of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft, will be delivered between 2027 and 2033. Europe’s biggest budget carrier said the purchase will help it grow passenger numbers from 168 million in the year to March 2023 to 300 million by March 2034.

“This new order will enable Ryanair to deliver sustained traffic and tourism growth at lower fares (and lower emissions per flight) across all European countries where Ryanair continues to lead the post Covid traffic, tourism and jobs recovery,” Ryanair added.

The low-cost carrier has recovered from the pandemic faster than much of the aviation industry, growing its market share as several competitors went bankrupt or cut their fleets and passenger capacity.

Ryanair posted record profit for the three months to December 31, after increasing airfares by 14% compared to their pre-pandemic level. It will report full year earnings on May 22.

Ryanair, Boeing on better terms

On Tuesday, O’Leary said the carrier was “pleased to sign this record aircraft order,” for “larger, more efficient, greener aircraft.”

The outspoken airline boss last year broke off talks with Boeing over a pricing squabble and described the planemaker’s management as “headless chickens” in scathing, profanity-laced criticism of the delivery delays.

Asked during an interview on CNBC Tuesday if he regretted those comments, O’Leary said he did not, although he added, “I frequently shoot my mouth off, not always necessarily accurately.”

“This is a bit like a marriage. We have occasional fights, we squabble occasionally, but we kiss and make up and then I pay up.”

In the same interview, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said he was fine with O’Leary’s earlier criticism.

“He was clear. His emotions showed,” he said. “That was an incredibly important message for the Boeing company to hear, for me to hear, for our team in Seattle to hear.”

At a news conference Tuesday, O’Leary said Boeing had made significant progress in catching up, according to Reuters. On prices, the Ryanair CEO said: “In our view it will never be cheap enough and in Boeing’s view it is always far too cheap.”

The transaction will be subject to shareholder approval at Ryanair’s annual shareholder meeting in September. Ryanair is one of Boeing’s largest customers, with more than 600 planes in its fleet or on order, according to its website.

The deal is a rare piece of good news for Boeing, which has struggled to recover from two fatal crashes involving the 737 Max aircraft. The planemaker has reported only one profitable quarter since the 737 Max was grounded for 20 months starting in March 2019.

Boeing has fallen far behind rival Airbus in sales of the single-aisle jets that dominate the commercial plane market. But it has also had problems in the widebody jet segment where it is more competitive.

It had to halt deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner for more than a year due to quality control problems and delay the final development of its newest wide-body aircraft, the 777X, which now won’t be ready until at least 2025.

— Chris Isidore contributed reporting.

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