Ryanair has raised its long-term traffic forecast and said it expects to fly 225 million passengers a year by 2026, up from 200 million previously as it eyes a strong recovery from
the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ryanair is holding its AGM in Dublin today.
In a statement, it said the planned delivery of 210 Boeing 737 MAX jets over the next five years will enable it to accelerate post-pandemic growth "as opportunities open up at primary and secondary airports all over Europe, particularly where legacy carriers have failed or reduced fleet sizes".
Ryanair, which is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, was flying 149 million passengers a year before the pandemic.
The airline expects to create over 5,000 new jobs for pilots, cabin crew and engineers over the next five years, and earlier this week it opened a €50m Aviation Training Centre in
Ryanair group chief executive Michael O'Leary said the performance of the B737 "Gamechanger" aircraft this summer has exceeded its expectations.
"With these new deliveries, Ryanair will open 10 new bases across Europe this year as we work with airport partners to help them recover traffic and jobs post Covid, and take up slot opportunities that are being vacated by competitor airlines who have collapsed or significantly reduced their fleet sizes," the CEO said.
Michael O'Leary said the Covid-19 pandemic has delivered an unprecedented blow to Europe's aviation and tourism industries.
"Only Ryanair has used this crisis to place significantly increased aircraft orders, to expand our airport partnerships, and to secure lower operating costs so that we can pass on even lower fares to our guests, so that together with our airport partners, we can recover strongly from the Covid pandemic and deliver higher than expected growth in both traffic and jobs over the next five years," he added.