Ryanair To Extend A320 Leases Another Four Years

Ryanair, Lauda planes in Vienna
Credit: Kurt Hofmann

VIENNA—Ryanair Group CEO Michael O’Leary says the company is extending lease contracts for 29 Airbus A320s operated by Lauda Europe for four years, from 2024 to 2028. 

“This secures jobs for the Airbus crews but also provides additional capacity for growth,” O’Leary told Aviation Daily in Vienna. “The leasing rates are significantly cheaper; we’re talking double-digit percentage lower rates.”

O’Leary said many lessors are facing challenges with their aircraft being stranded in Russia. “They now want long-term lease agreements,” he said. “That’s why we chose this lease extension.”

The Ryanair Group has four brands—Buzz, Lauda, Malta Air and Ryanair. The group began to register aircraft in Malta in 2019. “There are currently around 180 aircraft on the register in Malta,” O’Leary said. “This will grow to 200 to 220 aircraft next year.”

O’Leary came to Vienna on July 13 to announce Ryanair Group’s winter schedule for its Austrian base. “We have to focus on routes where Austrian Airlines has its monopoly, like Vienna-Copenhagen. We expect to have six million passengers in Austria,” he explained.

“Austria for us is the third fastest by growing in terms of market share, and we want to become the number one [operator there] in three to four years.” Ryanair has operated to Vienna since 2018 and opened a base in 2021. There are 19 aircraft operating on 70 routes, holding a market share of 20%.

Ryanair Group’s newest destinations from Vienna coming in winter will be Copenhagen, Helsinki and Tuzla (Bosnia and Herzegovina).

Ryanair CEO Michael O'Leary
Ryanair Group CEO Michael O'Leary in Vienna, July 13, 2022. Photo: Kurt Hofmann

O’Leary told Aviation Daily that Ryanair’s long-established relationship with Boeing is, at the moment, non-existent. “Boeing has completely screwed up their sales operation and the certification of the MAX 10,” the Ryanair Group CEO said. Either Boeing gets an extension regarding the certification process of the delayed 737 MAX 10, “which means they produce the MAX 10,” O’Leary said, “or they revoke the extension and then they will produce more 737-8s. The real challenge for Boeing is, they signed no sales all year long.”

O’Leary had told Aviation Daily previously that the MAX 10 would be the next logical step for Ryanair. Asked if he is in favor of ordering more MAX 8s if the MAX 10s will be not produced, O’Leary replied, “Whenever we get the right pricing with Boeing,” adding “I think that point is coming closer and closer because Boeing needs a larger order. Because their sales operations have been so unsuccessful the last 12 to 18 months.”

Nonetheless, another 55 Boeing 737-8200s will be delivered during the winter. “When we ordered these aircraft five years ago, we hedged away currency exchange, so we bought them at low prices,” O’Leary said. “We would pay about 30% more today without hedging.”

“We would not be interested in leasing MAXs and neos, we like to buy them,” O’Leary said. “The challenges are the sales from Airbus growing from strength to strength [while] Boeing sales operations are in free fall. They are losing customers recently, like to Qantas and China.” By the end of spring 2025, Ryanair will have taken delivery of 210 737-8s.

Kurt Hofmann

Kurt Hofmann has been writing on the airline industry for 25 years. He appears frequently on Austrian, Swiss and German television and broadcasting…