Ryanair expects the grounded Boeing 737 Max jet will be back in Britain’s skies by the beginning of March 2020, despite misgivings about such a timetable in Europe.
At the budget flyer’s annual shareholder meeting, chief executive Michael O’Leary has told shareholders he expects the jet, which was grounded in March this year after the second of two crashes which killed a total of 346 people.
His statement comes despite Europe’s aviation regulator insisting on carrying out its own certification process on the plane, rather than trusting that of its US counterpart.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will likely run these tests after the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) has passed the plane as safe to fly again, which is unlikely to come until late this year and could be delayed further.
‘An optimistic timeline’
O’Leary said: “If it flies in North America this side of Christmas, I think we are pretty secure we will be back flying some time (around) end February or March,” he said.
This would depend on Boeing getting approval in the US around the end of November, he said. “We believe we are about two months behind that”.
“I think they [the FAA and EASA] are largely on the same page but they don’t agree on everything.”
But aviation leasing expert Andre Cachia told City A.M. this was “an optimistic timeline”.
“It’s in the interests of all the European airlines to get their Maxes in the air given the fact it [the grounding] has cost them a fortune”.
Ryanair has already cut the number of Max planes it will fly in the summer of 2020 to 30 from 60.
City A.M. has contacted EASA for comment.