WASHINGTON — Irish budget airline Ryanair is ordering more Boeing 737 Max jets just weeks before the plane returns to flying after two crashes that killed 346 people.
Ryanair said Thursday it was placing 75 more orders for the Max, increasing its orders to 210 of the planes.
The announcement was a boost for Boeing, which has suffered cancellations of the plane while it was grounded for nearly two years and while demand for new jets plummeted because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said the planes offer lower fuel consumption and quieter flying than other aircraft. He expressed confidence that customers will fly on the plane, and that demand for travel will recover next year as virus vaccines become widely available.
Between cancellations and orders threatened by airlines’ pandemic losses, Boeing’s backlog of Max jets has shrunk by more than 1,000 this year.
Boeing CEO David Calhoun said he was confident that the Ryanair move was the beginning of the company’s bid to rebuild its Max order book.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. In normal times, airlines receive deep discounts off list prices, and Boeing may be under more pressure to cut prices because of recent cancellations.
Max jets were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Last month the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the way for the plane’s return by prescribing new flight-control software and other changes.