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Airline ticket prices could rise because there aren’t enough planes, says Ryanair boss

Airline ticket prices could rise by as much as 10 per cent this summer because of shortages of new aeroplanes, Ryanair’s boss has warned.

Michael O’Leary predicted that a looming shortage of airliners from both Boeing and Airbus will force up fares for holidaymakers.

He said: “We’re doing our budgets based on a fare increase of 5-10 per cent, which to me feels kind of reasonable.

“It could be higher than that, it could be lower than that, we don’t really know.”

A 10 per cent increase could add up to £80 to a typical fare for a family of four travelling to Spain.

Problems at Boeing, the manufacturer that supplies Ryanair’s aeroplanes, stem from its troubled 737 Max production line.

Part of a Boeing 737 Max fell off an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this year, prompting a safety crackdown.

US air safety regulators have refused to let Boeing speed up production of the airliner, as its customers are demanding, until they are satisfied the company has sorted out quality control problems, Mr O’Leary said.

Investigators found that a “door plug”, fitted to the Alaska Airlines aeroplane to seal off an unused doorway, had been installed without four vital securing bolts.

Mr O’Leary told reporters that he backed Boeing but criticised the company for problems such as screwdrivers and wrenches being found in brand-new aircraft straight from Boeing’s production lines.

“Just silly small things, none of which really we believe affect safety, but it’s indicative of the poor approach to quality control on the line and Boeing needs to fix it,” he said.

Although Ryanair started this year expecting to receive 57 new 737s by summer, the outspoken Irish executive said that number could be as low as 35.

A spokesman for Boeing said: “We are communicating with customers that some delivery schedules may change as we take the necessary time to make sure that every airplane we deliver is high quality and meets all customer and regulatory requirements.

“We deeply regret the impact this is having on our valued customer Ryanair. We’re working to address their concerns and taking action on a comprehensive plan to strengthen 737 quality and delivery performance.”

Last year one of Ryanair’s biggest low-cost rivals, Wizz Air, said it expected 45 of its 180-strong Airbus A320 fleet would be grounded until March due to engine problems.

Mr O’Leary predicted that airlines such as Wizz, Lufthansa and Air France “will be grounding upwards of 20 per cent of their A320 fleets” because of similar problems with their Pratt and Whitney-made engines.

EasyJet, one of Ryanair’s biggest competitors, does not use those engines in its Airbuses and is not affected in the same way.

Mr O’Leary added: “If we could get all 57 aircraft deliveries from Boeing in advance before the end of June we would make out like bandits all summer long because we have airports at the moment beating the door down to us.”

Ryanair’s original forecast for the year to the end of March 2025 was that it would carry 205 million passengers, up from 183.5 million during the previous 12 months.

The chief executive said: “With less aircraft, maybe we’ll have to bring that 205 million down towards 200 million passengers.”

In an aside about the upcoming elections around the world this year, Mr O’Leary also said that he would not vote for Donald Trump despite seeing himself as a natural Republican Party supporter.

He said: “I would f---ing vote for anybody other than Donald f---ing Trump had I a vote in the presidential election. Even Joe Biden, if he was senile, he would be a better president than Trump.”

On British politics, the airline boss said he felt “sorry” for the Prime Minister.

“I think that he’s fundamentally competent, and he has his heart in the right place,” Mr O’Leary said.

“But he’s still surrounded by nutters in the Tory party, and it’s time for the Tories to go. I will say that as a fundamentally Right wing, low tax, low spin f---ing personage.”

This article originally appeared on The Telegraph.

Photo: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis News /Getty

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