Ryanair hopes the FAA and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will finalize the licensing process of the Boeing 737 Max 200 in the coming days, paving the way for Europe’s largest LCC to finally take delivery of its first example in April. Following a commitment for 100 airplanes in September 2014, the airline became the launch customer for the high-density Max 8 variant and should have received its first example in April 2019.

“We hope that the [Max] 8-200 will be certified by the FAA sometime later this week and then by EASA later this week or early next week,” Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary said during an online press conference on Wednesday. Based on this, the company expects to take delivery of eight Max 200s in April and eight in May, but none in June. That would leave it with just 16 Maxes for the summer 2021 season, or eight less than it anticipated in February.

O’Leary, however, did not seem concerned. “Given that at this point in time we will only operate about 80 percent of our pre-Covid capacity [in July, August, and September], we do not need these aircraft,” he said, adding that the airline does, however, remain eager to get them to allow it to begin training pilots and cabin crew.

Ryanair in December raised its firm order from 135 to 210 airplanes, thanks to what O’Leary has described as “a modest discount provided to us by Boeing.” Even though the Max 200 can accommodate 200 seats in a single-class layout, Ryanair will configure them with 197 seats. The group plans to spread its Maxes among its AOCs, with aircraft painted in Ryanair, Buzz, and Malta Air liveries. Its Austrian subsidiary, Lauda, operates Airbus A320s.

Separately, O’Leary sounded optimistic about short-haul travel this summer on the back of a successful Covid-19 vaccination rollout in the UK and an expected acceleration of the pace of inoculations in the EU by June. “I see very little [travel] restrictions remaining in place,” he said, adding that the group could adjust up or down capacity depending on the recovery of demand.

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