The Context

  • Before the Ryan family development of Ryanair, the LCC concept was not developed in Europe; Southwest Airlines by comparison was well established as an LCC in USA
  • Very high fares prevailed in Europe; deregulation of European travel was envisaged but had not yet taken place (European Community)
  • Tony Ryan had developed the largest aircraft leasing business in the world (Guinness Peat Aviation) and was a pioneer of the industry
  • Tony Ryan and sons, Declan and Cathal, wanted to create new concept in airline travel to revolutionise travel between Ireland and Great Britain, and Europe.

What was achieved

  • Ryan family developed Ryanair in 1985
  • Initially commenced with an aircraft on Waterford, Ireland to London Gatwick route. Eyepopping >50% discount on fares
  • Became upstart competitor - overcame many challenges and navigated many twists & turns
  • Used insights from Southwest Airlines in USA
  • Acknowledged as a pioneer - forging LCC model in Europe.
  • Developed highly successful  strategy of using secondary airports 
  • Became lowest cost airline in Europe. Multiple accolades
  • Europe’s largest airline by passengers carried; over 300 aircraft and 82m passengers per year
  • New 2013 Boeing order of 180 aircraft.

Key Lessons

  • LCC model works for consumers; #1 choice
  • Lowest cost wins in long term
  • Attention to detail; simplicity of processes and disciplined execution of the model is key
  • Customer’s most valued metrics (beyond safety) – low fares, high punctuality, low lost bags. Ryanair leadership position on all measures.

Irelandia Position

  • Ryan family founded airline; active involvement at all levels
  • IPO in 1997 on NASDAQ
  • Outperformed NASDAQ by 8x, 1997-2012
  • Still shareholders