Boeing 737 Max’s Problems Force Ryanair to Cut Back Its Growth Plans

Ryanair, the Irish budget airline, said on Tuesday that it would scale back its growth plans for next summer because of expected delays in taking delivery of Boeing 737 Max planes.

The airline, which has grown quickly by offering inexpensive flights to smaller airports across Europe, had ordered 58 of the planes for delivery by next summer. But four months ago, after the 737 Max was involved in two fatal crashes, regulators ordered the aircraft grounded.

Boeing is in the process of updating the plane’s software to get regulatory approval to get the 737 Max flying again, but the grounding was extended after the Federal Aviation Administration identified a new problem with Boeing’s emergency procedures. Until the problem is resolved, airlines that ordered the planes cannot take delivery of them.

“Ryanair remains committed to the B737 Max aircraft, and now expects it will return to flying service before the end of 2019, however the exact date of this return remains uncertain,” Michael O’Leary, the airline’s chief executive, said in a statement.

The airline now expects to take delivery of only 30 planes. Because of that, it has lowered the number of passengers it expects to carry this year by 5 million, to 157 million. It now expects to increase its air traffic by 3 percent, rather than the 7 percent it originally estimated, this year.

Ryanair said the slowdown in growth would prompt it to reduce flights or even close its bases at some of the airports it serves toward the end of this year. Mr. O’Leary said the cuts were “directly caused” by Boeing’s problems with the 737 Max.

“We will also be consulting with our people and our unions in planning and implementing these base cuts and closures,” he said.

Ryanair is not the only airline affected by the continued grounding of the 737 Max.

American Airlines said last week that it was canceling flights scheduled on Max planes through Nov. 2. Norwegian Air said that the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max had skimmed 400 million Norwegian kroner, or about $47 million, off its second-quarter profits and that it expected it to cost the company 700 million kroner for the year.

The grounding of the planes is not the only challenge facing Ryanair.

The company’s full-year profits fell 29 percent for the year ending March 31, and it has already ended or reduced flights to some cities. It said the weaker profits were a result of lower fares, higher fuel prices and the cost of having to pay compensation because of shortages among its air-traffic control staff.

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