Ryanair, the low-cost European airline, has agreed to purchase 150 Boeing 737 Max 10 jets for $40 billion, with an option for 150 more.
The planes will be delivered between 2027 and 2034 and powered by traditional aircraft engines. Neil Sorahan, Ryanair’s finance chief, stated that the order is a sign of what the future holds for commercial aviation. He added that hydrogen and electric-powered planes may be the future, but it is unlikely they will be implemented in his lifetime. Sorahan said that hydrogen planes would require “massive investment in infrastructure,” and batteries did not have enough capacity to fulfill the required range. Ryanair executives have expressed doubt over the feasibility of hydrogen and electric-powered planes, and CEO Michael O’Leary suggested that such planes would not become a reality until 2050.
Ryanair expects the order to take its passenger numbers from around 225 million in 2026 to 300 million by 2034. Ryanair’s decision to purchase traditional aircraft engines is a departure from the recent trend in aviation. Many aviation companies, including Airbus, have been investing in developing hydrogen and electric-powered aircraft. Sustainable aviation fuel, made from used cooking oils and other waste, is also a popular alternative. Sorahan stated that hydrogen was not a “drop-in solution,” and its implementation would require “massive investment in infrastructure.” According to Sorahan, batteries do not have the capacity to fulfill the range needed for commercial planes. Ryanair hopes that the new plane order will allow the airline to reach 800 jets by 2034.
However, the Boeing 737 Max range has faced significant challenges, with all 737 Max planes grounded after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. The planes are now being cleared for use on a version-by-version basis, with the Max 10 expected to be certified next year. Relations between Ryanair and Boeing also soured in 2020 due to delivery delays. Despite these challenges, Ryanair’s CEO O’Leary stated that the relationship between the companies was “a bit like a marriage… we have occasional rows and occasional splits and then we come together and then kiss and make up.”
In conclusion, Ryanair’s decision to purchase traditional aircraft engines is a significant departure from the recent trend in aviation. While many aviation companies are investing in developing hydrogen and electric-powered planes, Ryanair’s executives have expressed doubt over their feasibility. Ryanair’s decision to purchase the Boeing 737 Max range has some potential challenges, with safety concerns and previous difficulties in the plane’s certification. The success of Ryanair’s new aircraft order may ultimately depend on the certification and safety of the Boeing 737 Max range.