By Peter Stiff and Benjamin Katz 

LONDON -- Ryanair Holdings PLC said it would cut jobs and close two bases as it warned traffic growth would slow next year because of new delays in deliveries of its first Boeing Co. 737 MAX aircraft.

The European budget carrier is one of Boeing's biggest customers for the embattled jet and had expected to receive its first MAX planes this spring. However, the plane has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes and it still isn't clear when it will resume flying.

Citing that uncertainty, Ryanair said Wednesday it had again revised its summer schedule for next year based on receiving just 10 MAX aircraft in time for the busy travel season, rather than the 20 it previously planned.

As a result, the company now expects to carry 156 million passengers in the year ending March 31, 2021, compared with the latest revised guidance for 157 million.

Before the crisis, the company had expected to have close to 60 of the aircraft in its fleet in time for the crucial summer period. In total, it has cut back its growth plans for 2020 by about six million passengers.

To accommodate the smaller fleet, Ryanair said it would close bases in Nuremberg, Germany, and at Sweden's Stockholm Skavsta Airport, as well as cut summer capacity at a number of other airports.

Ryanair said it was now working with Boeing, employees and unions to minimize the impact of the cuts. The company didn't say how many jobs could be lost.

The cuts, which the carrier attributed solely to MAX delays, mark the latest fallout at Ryanair from the plane's grounding.

The Irish airline, which has ordered 135 MAX jets, already had cautioned that profit this year would be dented by the plane's grounding. In addition to providing better fuel efficiency compared with its existing fleet of older generation 737 aircraft, Ryanair's MAX aircraft is a specially designed model that can fit more passengers.

Because it is a different design, the aircraft needs to get its own certification from regulators, which means Ryanair will receive its first aircraft later than other carriers. The airline said last month it may get its first jets as late as April next year, but cautioned that timetable could slip further.

Boeing's broader hopes of getting the MAX back in the air appeared to suffer a blow last month when the Federal Aviation Administration said in a letter to the plane maker that regulators intended to inspect and sign off on every jet individually before delivery to airlines.

Such a move signals that resuming MAX flights will be more complicated and perhaps more time consuming than previously projected.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 04, 2019 11:28 ET (16:28 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
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