One of Boeing’s biggest customers isn’t happy. Michael O’Leary, CEO of European budget airline Ryanair, delivered an obscenity-laden rant about Boeing’s late aircraft deliveries on a call with investors May 16. Boeing’s management, O’Leary said, is “running around like headless chickens” and needs “a reboot or a boot in the arse.”
The root of O’Leary’s anger is a delayed order for several Boeing 737-MAX airplanes, which Ryanair ordered in April. O’Leary said Ryanair was counting on getting the planes by the end of that month. (Boeing declined to comment on O’Leary’s claim that Boeing “failed to meet their delivery commitments.”) Instead, Boeing still owes Ryanair six planes, which it probably won’t deliver until June. As a result, O’Leary said, Ryanair has had to cancel flights and give up 600,000 to 800,000 potential ticket sales during Europe’s peak summer travel season.
Boeing has been in crisis since March 2019, when regulators around the world grounded its 737-MAX aircraft following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people. Ryanair was the first airline to order new 737-MAX planes when regulators cleared them to return to service in December 2020.
O’Leary was especially incensed because the late planes Ryanair ordered in April are so-called “white tail” aircraft, meaning Boeing had already built these planes for another airline, but that airline canceled its order (likely after the 2019 crashes). In other words, Boeing’s late deliveries aren’t the result of supply chain challenges that have delayed the production of everything from cars to baby formula. “I can understand why there may be various challenges manufacturing new aircraft,” O’Leary said. “But aircraft you built two years ago, which all you had to do is put petrol in them and fucking fly them to Dublin, really, I don’t understand why you are taking two or three month delays on that.”
Boeing declined to comment.
Listen to O’Leary’s four-minute diatribe in full:
Other customers have also criticized Boeing’s performance and suggested the company needs new management, albeit with fewer expletives. “I think it’s fair to say that Boeing has lost its way,” Domhnal Slattery, CEO of the world’s second biggest aircraft leasing company Avolon, said at the Airfinance Journal conference. Emirates airline president Tim Clark said Boeing needs to “get its act together.”