The Rise of Ryanair to Airline Powerhouse

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Based at Dublin Airport in Ireland, Ryanair is an Irish low-cost airline operating routes all over Europe and Morocco from over 40 bases.

The airline was founded in 1985 and operated a short hop flight from Waterford in Ireland to London. Its founders, Christopher Ryan, Liam Lonergan, and Tony Ryan decided to lease a 14-seater Embraer Bandeirante Turboprop aircraft that would fly from Waterford to London Gatwick Airport with the sole aim of breaking the monopololy of flights between London and the Republic of Ireland by British Airways and Aer Lingus. It then added a second route, from Dublin Airport to London Luton Airport and with these two routes and two planes, the airline carried 82,000 passengers at its peak. Although Ryanair was operating at a loss, passenger numbers continued to increase and the company realized that some restructuring was required in order to continue the growth that it had experienced. They appointed Michael O’Leary as the CEO, who decieded that the direction that Ryanair needed to follow was to offer low-cost, no-frills, quick turnaround flights with a sole model of aircraft.

Taking inspiration from Southwest Airlines in the United States of America, Ryanair went head-to-head with the national aircarriers who were heavily subsidized by the parent countries, and indeed by 1995 it was carrying over 2 million passengers each year.

A huge breakthrough for Ryanair was the deregulation of the air industry in Europe by the European Untion which meant that carriers from any EU country had the right to operate flights between other EU state countries. Following this breakthrough, the airlines launched services to Charleroi, Belgium, Paris-Beauvais, Oslo, and Stockholm.

In 2000, Ryanair launched its first website and within a year Ryanair were selling 75% of its flight tickets over the internet thus cutting costs further and even today, it is only possible to book Ryanair flights over the internet or over the phone. You cannot book directly through agents.

Ryanair continued to grow through the turn of the century and in 2003 they acquired the airline Buzz from KLM and by then was operating 127 routes from a total of 11 bases spread across Europe. They continued to increase their aircraft fleet to take the increasing passenger numbers that the airline was experiencing.

Today, Ryanair continues to be a successful low-cost airline operating 250 Boeing 737-800 aircraft all across Europe from 44 bases making it the 2nd largest airline in Europe for passenger numbers but more significantly, the largest airline in the world for carrying international passengers.

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