Air fares to rise by up to 10% this summer due to a shortage of planes, says Ryanair boss

Problems in the plane construction industry will be felt by holidaymakers this year, ITV News Correspondent Sangita Lal reports

A shortage of planes means holidaymakers face higher air fares this summer, the boss of Ryanair has warned.

Ryanair’s ticket prices will be up to 10% more expensive this summer compared with the same period last year after a delay in Boeing’s new aircraft deliveries, said chief executive Michael O’Leary

The squeeze will mean European airlines will struggle to meet demand for travel during the peak season, he predicted.

Ryanair has a contract with Boeing for the delivery of 57 new planes by the end of March but Mr O'Leary 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 January 5.

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

The shortage of aircraft has been compounded after it was announced in July 2023 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 issue.

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.

“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.”

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said passengers should prepare for ‘a higher fare environment across Europe for summer 2024’ Credit: Brian Lawless/PA

He went on: “Fares in summer 2024 are going to be up again on summer 2023.

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

“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.

“It could be higher than that, it could be lower than that, we don’t really know.

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

A Boeing spokesperson said: “We are communicating with customers that some delivery schedules may change as we take the necessary time to make sure that every airplane we deliver is high quality and meets all customer and regulatory requirements.

“We deeply regret the impact this is having on our valued customer Ryanair. We're working to address their concerns and taking action on a comprehensive plan to strengthen 737 quality and delivery performance.”

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