Ryanair (FR, Dublin Int'l) has confirmed it has sacked more than 200 employees as it closes three bases in the Canary Islands, a number that is nonetheless fewer than the 512 positions unions had feared would be lost, the news agency AFP reported.

Darrell Hughes, the carrier's director of human resources, said during a press conference in Madrid that the dismissals only included pilots and cabin crew.

Ryanair revealed in August that it would close its bases at Las Palmas, Lanzarote, and Tenerife Sur airports as well as one on the mainland, in Girona, which the Spanish union USO warned could result in a total of 512 lost jobs.

Eventually, Ryanair opted to keep Girona open after employees there signed new contracts to work nine months of the year instead of 12. The union said they would suffer wage cuts of 25% as a result. About 100 Girona-based employees accepted the new conditions, and those who refused were fired, Hughes said.

As for the Canaries, Hughes claimed that Ryanair had moved some pilots and cabin crew from there to other locations in Europe, but he gave no further details.

He said the job cuts and seasonal contracts were a direct result of delays in the delivery of the grounded Boeing 737 MAX, explaining, "We don't have enough airplanes so we're closing bases."

At the same press conference, chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said that the LCC could receive its first deliveries of up to ten MAX aircraft by April. That is earlier than indicated by CEO Michael O’Leary, who said this month that the airline may not get its first jets of the type until October.

"We now think we will get it in March or April this year, looks more like April than March, and we think we will get up to ten," Jacobs said. "It could still mean less than ten and the date could still change. It has been a moving feast."

According to the ch-aviation fleets advanced module, the Irish LCC has 135 B737-8-200s on firm order from Boeing and expects to take another 75 through lessors. The airline is one of only two customers for the higher-capacity variant of the MAX 8, besides VietJetAir. The variant needs a separate type certificate which has not yet been issued - this could delay the deliveries beyond the general ungrounding of B737 MAX.

The airline initially planned to receive its first twenty-five B737-8-200s by the end of 2019 and another twenty-five during the first quarter of 2020.