Boeing needs to 'get their s--- together,' Ryanair CEO says

Irish airline Ryanair is expecting delays with Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft to slow its growth next year.

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The airline planned to have 58 of the planes in place by next summer, CEO Michael O’Leary said. Now they’re expecting about 30, but that number isn’t concrete as there’s no definite timeline for when the aircraft will return to service.

“It may well move to 20, it could move to 10, and it could well move to zero if Boeing don’t get their s--- together pretty quickly with the regulator,” O’Leary said in an earnings call, according to FlightGlobal.

Ryanair will likely reduce the number of aircraft it keeps at some airports and may have to close its operations at others altogether due to slowed growth connected to Boeing’s grounded jets, O’Leary said in an earnings presentation Monday.

The airline is still committed to using the Max jets when they are cleared by regulators, O’Leary said. He pointed to the higher number of seats and fuel efficiency as advantages. Plus, he said the airline expects Boeing will pay for costs related to the Max delays.

“We expect Boeing to cover these losses,” O’Leary said.

Boeing has said it would take on a $4.9 billion charge it estimates it’ll pay to airlines affected by the Max grounding.

The 737 Max jets have been grounded since March, following the second of two accidents involving the aircraft. More than 300 people were killed between the two incidents.

Ryanair is in “daily contact” with Boeing and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency about the issue, O’Leary said.

“There’s still considerable uncertainty there,” he said.

U.S. airlines that fly the aircraft -- United, American and Southwest -- have blamed the Max grounding for flights being pulled from their schedules through early November.

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The Ryanair CEO’s statements came the same day that the BBC reported a former Boeing engineer said work on the 737 Max production line wasn’t adequately funded. Adam Dickson, who led a team of engineers that worked on the planes, said they were pressured to keep costs low and to classify changes as minor so they faced less scrutiny from regulators.

“Certainly what I saw was a lack of sufficient resources to do the job in its entirety,” he told the BBC.

Boeing disputed Dickson’s comments, telling the BBC that it “did not cut corners or push the 737 Max out before it was ready.”

Regulators have not said when the jets will be allowed to fly again.