Ryanair says it will hire 2,000 pilots to crew its fleet of new Boeing aircraft, the airline said on Monday, in a spark of hope for an industry pummelled by the pandemic.
Last month, Ryanair took delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, with a further 12 planes expected in time for the peak of summer travel this year.
The Irish airline is the largest European customer for the model, with a total of 210 orders of the 197-seat aircraft.
It has been forced to wait more than two years for the delivery of the Boeing 737-8200s after the aircraft was involved in two fatal accidents just months apart in 2018 and 2019. The aircraft was subsequently grounded for 22 months.
Following a lengthy safety review, the jet has now been cleared to fly again by the Federal Aviation Administration and EU and UK regulators.
Ryanair said the new model would help it “lower costs, cut fuel consumption and lower noise and CO2 emissions”.
Training courses for new pilots will take place throughout 2021 to be ready for summer 2022 for positions all over Europe, the airline said.
The hiring spree will be welcome news for many in the industry, especially as travel restrictions ease and more people begin to go on holiday overseas.
But new figures from Heathrow, also released on Monday morning, illustrate the damage wrought by the pandemic on the travel sector.
Passenger numbers at Britain’s busiest airport were down by 90% in the first six months of 2021 when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
Only 3.8 million travellers passed through Heathrow between January and June 2021, the airport said, compared with 39 million during the same period in 2019.
From next week, fully vaccinated British travellers will no longer have to isolate when returning from amber list countries, a change that is expected to further stimulate passenger numbers.
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