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Definition :Ryanair - The lowest fares guaranteed - cheap flights, fly cheaper

History of Ryanair

Ryanair was Europe's original low fares airline and is still Europe's largest low fares carrier. In the current year Ryanair will carry 50m passengers on 557 low fare routes across 26 European countries. We have 23 European bases and by the end of March 2008 Ryanair will operate a fleet of 163 new Boeing 737-800 aircraft with firm orders for a further 99 new aircraft (all net of planned disposals), which will be delivered over the next 5 years. Ryanair currently employs a team of 4,800 people, comprising over 25 different nationalities.

Here is a brief history of Europe's first and largest low fares airline:

Ryanair is set up by the Ryan family with a share capital of just £1, and a staff of 25. We launch our first route in July with daily flights on a 15-seater Bandeirante aircraft, operating daily from Waterford in the southeast of Ireland to London Gatwick. Ryanair's first cabin crew recruits must be less than 5ft. 2ins. tall in order to be able to operate in the tiny cabin of the aircraft!!

Passengers: 5,000
People (y/e): 51

Ryanair obtains permission from the regulatory authorities to challenge the British Airways and Aer Lingus' high fare duopoly on the Dublin-London route. Services are launched with two (46-seater) turbo prop BAE748 aircraft. The first flights operate in May from Dublin to London Luton. The launch fare of £99 return is less than half the price of the BA/Aer Lingus lowest return fare of £209. Both British Airways and Aer Lingus slash their high prices in response to Ryanair's. Ryanair starts the first fare war in Europe. With two routes in operation, Ryanair carries 82,000 passengers in its first full year in operation.

Passengers: 82,000
People (y/e): 151

Ryanair acquires its first jet aircraft by leasing three BAC1-11 aircraft from the Romanian state airline, Tarom. The aircraft arrive on a full wet lease with Tarom providing all the pilots and engineers to enable Ryanair to operate the aircraft. With the arrival of these jet aircraft Ryanair increases its network with 15 scheduled routes from Dublin to Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff, and opens up new routes from Luton to Cork, Shannon, Galway, Waterford and Knock in the West of Ireland.

Passengers: 322,000
People (y/e): 212

Ryanair leases another three BAC 1-11 jets (6 in total) from Tarom, and leases a brand new ATR 42 turbo prop aircraft from GPA to service the smaller Irish regional airports. We launch 2 new routes from Dublin to Brussels (Mon-Fri) and a once weekly to Munich. Ryanair launches a business class service and a Frequent Flyer Club, neither of which prove particularly successful.

Passengers: 592,000
People (y/e): 379

We lease two more ATR42 turbo props (3 in total) and use these aircraft to retire the small Bandeirantes and the old 748's. The fleet now comprises 6 x BAC1-11 jets and 3 x ATR42 turbo props. Due to continuing losses the business class product is abandoned and the Frequent Flyer Club closed.

Passengers: 644,000
People (y/e): 477

After three years of rapid growth in aircraft, routes and intense price competition with Aer Lingus and British Airways, Ryanair accumulates £20m in losses and goes through a substantial restructuring. The Ryan family invest a further £20m. in the company, and copying the Southwest Airlines low fares model the airline is re-launched under new management as Europe's first low fares airline. Ryanair now offers the lowest fares in every market, high frequency flights, moving to a single aircraft fleet type, scrapping free drinks and expensive meals on board but reducing the lowest fares from £99 to just £59 return. We launch an Easter weekend seat sale with fares of £59 return, and such is the demand that passengers queue halfway up Dawson Street for 3 days to get these lowest ever fares.

Passengers: 745,000
People (y/e): 493

The Gulf War breaks out in January causing passenger traffic to collapse. Tanks are stationed outside the major London airports. We respond by lowering air fares and we get rid of our turbo props by returning 3 x ATR 42s to their owners, a decision which results in our withdrawal from regional routes to Kerry, Galway and Waterford airports. In May 1991, Ryanair switches its main London base from London Luton Airport to the new London Stansted Airport in Essex. Stansted was developed by the BAA to become the third main airport for London and has a fantastic new terminal and a direct rail link to the centre of London (Liverpool Street Station). This is the only time in Ryanair's ten years of operation that traffic and employment numbers fall. Despite the impact of the Gulf War, Ryanair makes a profit for the first time with an audited profit of £293,000 for the year.

Passengers: 651,000
People (y/e): 477

Ryanair continues to restructure cutting back routes and fleet. The route network is shaved back from 19 to just 6 routes - Dublin-Stansted, Dublin-Luton, Dublin-Liverpool and Cork, Shannon and Knock to Stansted. We increase the jet fleet from 6 to 7 BAC 1-11s, increase frequencies and lower fares. Despite a reduction in routes, traffic grows by over 45% as passengers respond to Ryanair's lower fares, and all jet, high frequency services. In August we carry over 100,000 passengers in one month for the first time in our history.

Passengers: 945,000
People (y/e): 507

Ryanair launches its first new route for 5 years with daily flights from Dublin to Birmingham. The Irish Government warn us not to do it because it will "upset" Aer Lingus. We go ahead anyway. We increase the fleet to 11 x BAC 1-11 jets by acquiring 4 ex-British Airways aircraft. In December Ryanair announces a deal to buy a fleet of six Boeing 737 aircraft direct from Boeing. These aircraft were previously operated by the UK charter company Britannia, and allow Ryanair to start replacing the old BAC1-11 jets, all of which are scheduled for redelivery or retirement in 1994. Thanks to continuing growth, we carry over 1 million passengers in one year for the first time.

Passengers: 1,120,000
People (y/e): 503

Ryanair takes delivery of its first Boeing 737 in January and launches two new routes from Dublin to Manchester and Glasgow Prestwick in April. A total of 8 x 737s are delivered during the year and replace the old BAC 1-11s, the last of which are retired from the fleet at the year end. In October we start new services from Dublin to London Gatwick replacing Aer Lingus who have pulled off the route.

Passengers: 1,666,000
People (y/e): 523

Ryanair overtakes Aer Lingus and British Airways to become the largest passenger airline on the Dublin-London route (the biggest international scheduled route in Europe). Ryanair also becomes the largest Irish airline on every route we operate to/from Dublin. It proves that Ryanair's low fares, high frequency formula continues to win acceptance in every market we operate between Ireland and the UK.

In September Ryanair becomes the first low fares airline to operate a domestic route in the UK with low fare flights from London Stansted to Glasgow Prestwick. Ryanair celebrates its 10th birthday with a big party in Lansdowne Rugby Club, but few people remember it!!! We buy 4 more Boeing 737s from Transavia bringing the fleet to 11 aircraft in 1995, and traffic for the year exceeds 2m. for the first time.

Passengers: 2,260,00
People (y/e): 523

Ryanair's growth continues with new routes to Leeds Bradford, Cardiff and Bournemouth in April. Ryanair is voted Best Value Airline. In November we reach agreement to buy 8 more Boeing 737-200s, which were previously operated by Lufthansa. We take delivery of the first of these in December, bringing the year end fleet to 12 x Boeing 737s. The European Union finally completes the "Open Skies" deregulation of the scheduled airline business thereby enabling airlines to compete freely throughout Europe.

Passengers: 2,950,000
People (y/e): 605

Ryanair launches its first four European routes with services from London Stansted to Stockholm Skavsta and Oslo Torp, and with low fare flights from Dublin to Paris Beauvais and Brussels Charleroi. We buy 2 more B737s (from TAP and GECAS) to bring the fleet to 21 aircraft. On 29th May 1997 Ryanair becomes a public company for the first time with a successful flotation on the Dublin and NASDAQ (New York) Stock Exchanges. The shares are more than 20 times over subscribed and the share price surges from a flotation price of €11 to close at €25½ on their first day of trading. All of Ryanair's employees receive shares as part of the flotation process and at the close of the first days trading, Ryanair's employees are sitting on over €100m. worth of shares. In October we launch our third airport base at Glasgow Prestwick with daily flights to Dublin, London, Paris and Frankfurt. In December the UK Civil Aviation Authority publishes punctuality statistics for the Dublin-London route which confirms that Ryanair is the most on-time airline on the route for 1997.

Passengers: 3,730,000
People (y/e): 659

Dublin - London
Aer Lingus
British Midland
British Airways

Ryanair continues to open up new routes in Europe. The 1998 summer schedule sees six new destinations added in Malmo (Sweden), St Etienne and Carcassonne (France) and Venice, Pisa and Rimini in Italy. In order to accommodate our continuing rapid growth, on 9th March 1998 Ryanair places an order for 45 (25 firm and 20 options) brand new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft with a value of over $2bn. In July, we issue new shares to raise over £110m to help pay for these aircraft. Ryanair is voted 'Airline of the Year' by the Irish Air Transport Users Committee, and is voted the 'Best Managed National Airline' in the world by the prestigious International Aviation Week magazine.

Passengers: 4,629,000
People (y/e): 892

On 20th March Ryanair accepts delivery of its first new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft. Five in total are delivered during the year. The aircraft begins operations from our main base at London Stansted, and its impact allows Ryanair to operate with significantly lower seat costs and to offer much lower airfares, but with better reliability and a fantastic new customer product. New European routes are launched to Frankfurt, Biarritz, Ostend, Ancona, Genoa, Turin, Derry and Aarhus in Denmark. Ryanair is awarded "Best Value Airline" by the UK "Which" Consumer Magazine. Duty free sales on internal EU flights and travel are brought to an end. We respond by introducing a lowest ever return fare of £19.99 on the Dublin-London route.

Passengers: 5,358,000
People (y/e): 1,094

In January, Ryanair launches Europe's largest booking website - Within three months the site is taking over 50,000 bookings a week, and becomes the only source of the lowest airfares in Europe. In addition, allows passengers to avail of the lowest cost car hire, hotel accommodation, travel insurance and rail services. Ryanair adds 8 more B737-800s (13 in total) and launches its first new base since 1991 by basing three new aircraft at Glasgow Prestwick, providing Scottish consumers for the first time with direct low fare flights to Europe (Paris and Frankfurt), in addition to low fares flights to Dublin and London. One of our cabin crew, Brian Dowling, wins the Big Brother reality TV show. Ryanair becomes the first airline to sponsor the Skynews Weather reports, which beams Ryanair into millions of homes and thousands of hotel rooms all over Europe.

Passengers: 7,002,000
People (y/e): 1,262


Ryanair selects its first Continental European base at Brussels Charleroi Airport with 5 more B737-800s (18 in total) being delivered. All of our competitors, including Sabena and Brussels Zavantem Airport, predict that nobody will use Brussels Charleroi, and that Ryanair's low fares will never work in Brussels. We start with daily flights from Brussels to Dublin, London, Glasgow, Shannon, Venice, Paris and Carcassone.

We commence our first day flights with our famous "Mannikin Pis" advert which drives Sabena crazy and convinces Belgium that Ryanair's low fares and Brussels Charleroi are here to stay. In August we carried more than 1m passengers in one month for the first time. This is more traffic in one month than we carried in all of 1993! In September, the terrorist attacks on 9/11 mark a downturn in our traffic and cause enormous increases in oil prices.

Passengers: 9, 355,000
People (y/e): 1,467

We select Frankfurt Hahn as our second Continental European base and launch in April with 10 routes to Ireland, UK, Norway, France and Italy. These first low fare flights to Germany bring an end to the high fare monopoly of Lufthansa. Ryanair successfully overturns Lufthansa's repeated attempts to block low fare competition from Ryanair in Frankfurt Hahn in the Germany Courts. German consumers flock in their millions to avail of the lowest air fares to and from Frankfurt. To accommodate this growth, Ryanair announces the largest ever aircraft order by an Irish airline by increasing our aircraft order with Boeing from 45 to 125 firm aircraft, with a further 125 options. The value of this order exceeds €6bn. and signals Ryanair's ambition to continue to be the largest low fares airline in Europe as well as the lowest fare airline in Europe. Ryanair becomes No.1 in Europe of customer service beating all other European airlines for punctuality, fewer cancellations and least lost bags.

Passengers: 13,419,000
People (y/e): 1,547


Rapid expansion of Ryanair right across Europe continues. We acquire Buzz, the Stansted based loss making airline from KLM in April, we close it for a month and then re-launch on 13 former Buzz routes in May at half the fares previously charged by Buzz.

This acquisition gives Ryanair immediate access to 11 new French regional airports as well as making Ryanair by far and away the largest airline operating at London Stansted Airport. We also open up two new Continental European bases with the launch of low fare flights from Milan Bergamo in February and from Stockholm Skavsta in April. In total this year we launch 73 new routes, we take delivery of 14 more B737-800s (42 in total) and retire the first 7 of our 21 older B737-200s at the end of the year. We carry over 2m. passengers in one month (July) for the first time.

Passengers: 19,490,000
People (y/e): 1,746

Ryanair is named the most popular airline on the web for 2003 by Google, as continues to be the most searched travel website in Europe. We add 24 new B737-800 aircraft (60 in total) and retire another 5 of the older 737-200s. We launch two new bases in Rome Ciampino and Barcelona Girona as well as adding further aircraft to the existing bases at Stockholm Skavsta, Frankfurt Hahn and Milan Bergamo. now accounts for over 98% of all Ryanair bookings.

Passengers: 24,635,000
People (y/e): 2,288

We launch 5 new bases, at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, Shannon in the West of Ireland, Pisa, Nottingham East Midlands and Cork, giving us a total of 15 bases throughout Europe in 2005. We retire the remaining 737-200 aircraft and replace them with brand new Boeing 737-800s. We now have the youngest fleet in the world with an average aircraft age of just two years. Our punctuality is also second to none, and we celebrate beating Easyjet for punctuality every week for three years solid. We carry more passengers in August than British Airways on their entire worldwide network, making us "The World's Favourite Airline." We also reiterate our "no fuel surcharge guarantee" as airlines such as British Airways, Air France and Lufthansa continue to supplement their already high fares with fuel surcharges. To celebrate our 20 th birthday, we offer 100,000 seats at 99p, 100 times less than our 1985 fare!.

Passengers: 30,946,000
People (y/e): 2700

We carry a record 42.5 million passengers in the year. In March we accept delivery of our 100th Boeing 737-800 and launch our Web check-in service, giving passengers the opportunity to check-in online across our entire route network. Over the summer, Ryanair becomes the world's first airline to carry more than 4 million international passengers in one month. We also become the first airline to announce plans for onboard mobile phone use across our entire fleet and we announce a new base in Bremen. In October Ryanair gaming and bingo is launched and we make an all cash offer for the small regional airline, Aer Lingus while November sees the opening of new bases in Madrid in Marseille. While other airlines maintain their fuel surcharges, Ryanair remains the only airline to guarantee "no fuel surcharges ever" prompting even more passengers to flock to our lowest fares and best customer service on 436 low fare routes across 24 countries.

We announce new bases in Dusseldorf and Bristol as our rapid expansion continues across Europe. In March IATA confirms that Ryanair has become the world’s largest international airline. In May we launch the world's first free seat giveaway (including taxes and charges), offering 1 million passengers the chance to snap up flights for absolutely nothing! At the same time we launch our price guarantee that no other airline can match our fares. In June we report record financial results and expect to carry 52m passengers in the coming year, thanks to the popularity of our guaranteed lowest fares.

Ryanair Passenger Growth in Millions
Source : Ryanair

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