Europe’s biggest budget airline is planning to grow even larger – by repeating its trick of ordering dozens of new aircraft when no one else is buying.
Ryanair, which is already the leading European customer for the troubled Boeing 737 Max, is ordering more jets in bulk – at a price believed to be less than half the list price of $125m (£94m) per aircraft.
But many passengers have expressed doubts about the plane, which remains grounded after two fatal crashes.
The Boeing 737 Max was banned from carrying passengers worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal accidents blamed on a new anti-stall system.
In October 2018, 189 people died on board a Lion Air 737 Max when it plunged into the Java Sea shortly after take-off from Jakarta in Indonesia.
Five months later, an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed in similar circumstances as the pilots battled to overcome software that forced the nose of the plane down. All 157 passengers and crew died.
Both accidents were caused by a new flight-control system activated by a single faulty sensor.
Unlike Tui and Norwegian, who operated the Max before the grounding, Ryanair has yet to take delivery of any of the 135 aircraft it has on firm order.
But the airline intends to fly the latest version of the 737 from summer 2021 – and is pinning its plans for expansion on dozens more of the plane.
The 75 options that it has are expected to be converted to firm orders, and industry rumours suggest that Ryanair could order up to 100 more 737 Max aircraft to support its expansion plans.