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Summer fares higher due to lack of planes

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% more expensive this summer compared with the same period last year.

Mr O’Leary said this is because the carrier’s growth in passenger numbers will 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.” Mr O’Leary added.

“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 to say:

“Our average air fares in summer 2023 rose 17%.

However he confirmed this is unlikely to be repeated in 2024 stating, “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%, which to me feels kind of reasonable.

Mr O’Leary claimed this drop in growth is a main be a reason for the price increase.

“If capacity was growing, I think fares would be falling.”

Ryanair has a contract with Boeing for new planes but expects delays in delivery will effect growth

Ryanair has a contract with Boeing for the delivery of 57 new planes by the end of March but he expects to have received only 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 on 5 January.

Major concerns have been raised about quality control for new Boeing aircraft, sparking a limit in production speed.

Meanwhile, it was announced in July last year that 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% 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.”

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