Ryanair to take longer to reach 200 million passenger target due to 737 MAX woes

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair <RYA.I> will take longer than expected to reach its long-term target of flying 200 million passengers per year due to delays in the delivery of Boeing’s <BA.N> 737 MAX jet, the Irish airline announced on Monday.

Ryanair had planned to reach the 200 million passengers mark in the year to March 2024, but now expects that to take at least until 2025 or 2026, the airline said in its quarterly results release. It expects to ferry 154 million people in its current year to March 2020.

The Irish airline had originally planned to fly 58 of the Boeing 737 MAX this summer but has cut that number since the jet was grounded after two fatal crashes and as the U.S. planemaker <BA.N> struggled to secure approval for its re-entry to service.

“As a direct result of these delivery delays, we plan to extend our 200 million per annum passenger target by at least one or two years to FY25 or FY26,” it said.

Boeing in January said it did not expect the MAX to return to service until mid-2020 and, given Ryanair does not take deliveries during its summer peak of June-August, it will not have the first 10 MAX planes until the autumn.

Ryanair on Monday said it did not expect to receive the first MAX jets until September or October 2020.

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Himani Sarkar)