ATR-42 in 1991
Ryanair has grown since its establishment in 1985 from a small airline flying a short hop from Waterford to London into one of Europe's largest carriers. After the rapidly growing airline was taken public in 1997, the money raised was used to expand the airline into a pan-European carrier. Revenues have risen from €231 million in 1998, to €1843 million in 2003 and €3013 million in 2010. Similarly net profits have increased from €48 million to €339 million over the same period. Early years
Ryanair was founded in 1985 by Christopher Ryan, Liam Lonergan (owner of Irish travel agent Club Travel) and Irish businessman Tony Ryan (after whom the company is named), founder of Guinness Peat Aviation and father of Cathal Ryan and Declan. The airline began with a 14-seat Embraer Bandeirante turboprop aircraft, flying between Waterford and Gatwick Airport with the aim of breaking the duopoly on London-Republic of Ireland flights at that time, held by British Airways and Aer Lingus.
Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante in 1988
In 1986, the company added a second route – flying Dublin–Luton International Airport in direct competition with the Aer Lingus / British Airways duopoly for the first time. Under partial EU deregulation, airlines could begin new international intra-EU services, as long as at least one of the two governments gave approval (the so-called "double-disapproval" regime). The Irish government at the time refused its approval, in order to protect Aer Lingus, but Britain, under Margaret Thatcher's pro-free-market Conservative government, approved the service. With two routes and two planes, the fledgling airline carried 82,000 passengers in one year. Passenger numbers continued to increase, but the airline generally ran at a loss and, by 1991, was in need of restructuring. Michael O'Leary was charged with the task of making the airline profitable. O'Leary quickly decided that the key to low fares was to implement quick turn-around times for aircraft, "no frills" and no business class, as well as operating a single model of aircraft. In 1987, a Short Sunderland was operated by Ryanair. O'Leary returned from a visit to Southwest Airlines convinced that Ryanair could make huge inroads into the European air market, at that time dominated by national carriers, which were subsidised to various degrees by their parent countries. He competed with the major airlines by providing a "no-frills", low-cost service. Flights were scheduled into regional airports, which offered lower landing and handling charges than larger established international airports. O'Leary as Chief Executive took part in a publicity stunt, where he helped out with baggage handling on Ryanair flights at Dublin airport. By 1995, after the consistent pursuit of its low-cost business model, Ryanair celebrated its 10th birthday by carrying 2.25 million passengers. 1992–1999
Ryanair operated BAC 1-11 series 500 aircraft between 1988 and 1993 In 1992, the European Union's (EU) deregulation of the air industry in Europe gave carriers from one EU country the right to operate scheduled services between other EU states and represented a major opportunity for Ryanair. After a successful flotation on the Dublin Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ Stock exchanges, the airline launched services to Stockholm, Oslo (Sandefjord Airport, Torp, 110 km south of Oslo), Paris-Beauvais and Charleroi near Brussels. In 1998, flush with new capital, the airline placed a massive US$2 billion order for 45 new Boeing 737-800 series aircraft.
Boeing 737-200 landing at Bristol Airport, the type operated by the company through the 1990s and until 2005. 2000–2006
The airline launched its website in 2000, with online booking initially said to be a small and unimportant part of the software supporting the site. Increasingly the online booking contributed to the aim of cutting flight prices by selling direct to passengers and...