Ryanair has warned more pilot and cabin crew job losses “cannot be ruled out” after the latest delay in the return to service of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft.
It comes after Boeing last week admitted it might be July before the MAX fleet – grounded globally after two deadly crashes – may be clear to fly again.
Ryanair had been hoping to take delivery of ten of the aircraft in May or June, ahead of the peak summer season, but said in a memo to staff that it will now not be able to receive them until September or October at the earliest.
That means it is having to “urgently revisit” its summer 2020 schedule, according to the memo – which was first seen by the Reuters news agency.
“Sadly, this means we cannot rule out further base cuts and closures,” it said.
“We will do our best to avoid any more base closures, but this will mean eliminating at least ten aircraft from existing bases, and so further pilot and cabin crew job losses cannot be ruled out.”
The memo was sent to staff by Eddie Wilson, chief executive of the Ryanair airline brand which operates as part of the wider Ryanair group headed by Michael O’Leary.
Mr Wilson said the company would try to advise all bases in the first or second week of February “as to what further cuts and/or closures will be required as direct result of these further Boeing MAX delivery delays”.
“I apologise sincerely for this uncertainty, and for any worry it may cause you,” he added.
Mr Wilson said the airline would try to minimise outright base closures in favour of cuts and reductions in flight frequency.
The 737 MAX was grounded last March after 346 people died in two crashes attributed to anti-stall software.
Ryanair has a fleet of more than 450 aircraft and is one of the biggest MAX customers, with 210 on order.
The group’s chief executive said last month that the grounding of the fleet was costing it at least €100m (£84m) a year.
Ryanair has already cut a number of bases over the winter, leading to cabin crew and pilot job cuts.