Holidaymakers face higher summer fares due to lack of planes, says Ryanair boss

Production troubles at Boeing after safety scare has slowed delivery of aircraft, while rivals also face issues with Airbus

Holidaymakers will face higher air fares this summer because of capacity constraints, the boss of Ryanair has warned.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said issues limiting the number of available aircraft mean European airlines will struggle to meet demand for travel during the peak season.

He predicted that Ryanair’s ticket prices will be up to 10 per cent higher this summer compared with the same period last year. Mr O’Leary said this was because the carrier’s growth in passenger numbers would be lower than expected because Boeing’s new aircraft deliveries are being delayed.

Ryanair’s original forecast for the year to the end of March 2025 was that it would carry 205 million passengers, up from 183.5 million during the previous 12 months.


Mr O’Leary told reporters at the carrier’s Dublin headquarters: “With less aircraft maybe we’ll have to bring that 205 million down towards 200 million passengers. It might be a scratch below 200 million, we just don’t know at this stage. That probably means that even our growth this year is going to be constrained in Europe, and I think that leads to a higher fare environment across Europe for summer 2024.”

He went on: “Fares in summer 2024 are going to be up again on summer 2023. Our average air fares in summer 2023 rose 17 per cent. We don’t think we’ll see that kind of double-digit fare increase this year. We’re doing our budgets based on a fare increase of 5-10 per cent, which to me feels kind of reasonable. It could be higher than that, it could be lower than that, we don’t really know. If capacity was growing I think fares would be falling.”

Ryanair has a contract with Boeing for the delivery of 57 new planes by the end of March next year but Mr O’Leary expects to only receive 40 to 45 by then.

He said the US manufacturer “has the Federal Aviation Administration [the US regulator] crawling all over them” since a Boeing 737 Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines suffered a mid-air blowout in January. Major concerns have been raised about quality control for new Boeing aircraft, sparking a limit in production speed. Boeing has since ousted the executive in charge of the 737 Max programme.

Meanwhile, it was announced in July last year than more than 1,000 Pratt & Whitney-built engines would need to be removed from Airbus aircraft due to a safety recall. Mr O’Leary predicted that airlines such as Wizz Air, Lufthansa and Air France “will be grounding upwards of 20 per cent of their A320 fleets” because of this.

He added: “If we could get all 57 aircraft deliveries from Boeing in advance before the end of June we would make out like bandits all summer long because we have airports at the moment beating the door down to us.” – PA

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