Ryanair Holdings is targeting a fleet of around fifty Airbus narrowbodies operated by its Maltese subsidiary Lauda Europe (LW, Malta International), including transitioning to the A320neo Family after 2030, according to group chief executive Michael O'Leary. However, the lack of available aircraft is complicating the plans.

"Airbus is backed up with aircraft deliveries out to 2030. [Lauda] leases only run up to 2028/29. So I would be hopeful of either extending those leases or replacing them with other leased A320ceo until I can get a deal done with Airbus for new Airbus aircraft sometime in the next five to ten years," he told SimpleFlying.

Both A320-200s and A321-200s are being considered.

The Maltese unit is an outlier in the Irish low-cost carrier group's otherwise all-B737 fleet. Lauda Europe is a descendant of Austria-based Lauda, formerly LaudaMotion, which Ryanair Holdings acquired following the collapse of former parent airberlin group by 2019. Having inherited its A320 fleet, the carrier has vacillated between plans to expand the Airbus fleet and add A320neo and drop the aircraft in favour of a unified B737 fleet across its AOCs.

O'Leary said the plan to retire the A320s was not entirely off the table, given issues with securing new A320 aircraft.

"I would like to have a bigger number of Airbus aircraft in the fleet, but at the moment, I can't get them. If I still can't get them by 2028 when we have to return those aircraft, I'll replace them with B737s," he said.

The main driver behind Ryanair Holdings' decision to retain the A320 is the training cost of pilots and crew.

Lauda Europe currently operates twenty-seven A320-200s flying exclusively under Ryanair's 'FR' code. The group's B737 fleet comprises one B737-700, 396 B737-800s, and 145 B737-8-200s across the four Boeing-operating AOCs (Ryanair, Buzz (Poland), Malta Air, and Ryanair UK).