Ryanair says MAX woes may delay growth by two years

Ryanair is one of the biggest customers for the Boeing 737 MAX jet.

So it's little surprise that the plane's grounding is impacting Europe's largest low cost airline.

Now the firm says it may have to push back its long-term target of flying 200 million passengers per year by as much as two years, while it waits for new deliveries of the model.

It's got 210 jets on order and hopes to have its first 55 of those flying by summer 2021 - a year later than planned.

But Chief Executive Michael O'Leary suggested on Monday (February 3) that Boeing's delivery schedule could ultimately run two years late.

The 737 MAX, Boeing's fastest-selling aircraft, was grounded in March after 346 people died in two crashes attributed to the plane's anti-stall software.

Boeing now says it does not expect the MAX to return to service until mid-2020.

Ryanair said the MAX delays had forced it to close a number of loss-making winter bases, leading to some crew redundancies in Spain, Germany and Sweden.

The airline reported profit after tax of $97.6million for the three months to the end of December, with average fares up 9%.

The update came weeks after Ryanair raised its profit forecast to between 1 and 1.17 billion dollars for its financial year to the end of March - thanks to a better than expected Christmas and New Year.

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