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Happy Birthday Ryanair

220px Ryanair EMB 110

Thirty-five years young! 

On 8 July 1985, Ryanair commenced operations with its first flight from Waterford to London Gatwick using an Embraer Bandeirante. Originally named Danren Enterprises, the company was formed in 1984 by Christopher Ryan, Liam Lonergan and Tony Ryan.

In 1986 a second route was introduced, Dublin to London Luton, in direct competition with Aer Lingus and BA. Another aircraft was added, an HS748. Under partial EEC deregulation, international intra-EEC services could operate provided one of the two governments involved agreed. The Irish said no, but Margaret Thatcher’s Conservatives approved. 82,000 passengers were carried in that year. 

Taking a large stake in London European Airways allowed Ryanair to link with their London Luton services to Amsterdam and Brussels. Michael O’Leary was appointed Chief Financial Officer in 1988. After decreasing profits, the company underwent restructuring in 1990, after he visited Southwest Airlines. It’s claimed their business model was adopted but critics state that the US carrier is far more customer friendly!

From 1988 to 1993, the BAC1-11 500 Series was introduced. Built in Romania and rumoured to be flown by ex-fighter pilots, with cabin announcements made by British or Irish flight attendants so passengers would not be alarmed hearing the heavy foreign accents on the flightdeck. An order for 45 Boeing 737-800 placed in 1995 was followed by 155 more in 2001. Again, this demonstrated Southwest’s business model, by adopting a one type fleet. However, in 2009 it was reported that Ryanair wished to order 200 aircraft and intended to look at Airbus and Boeing. Subsequent statements from both companies denied there had ever been any discussions. The airline now operates a Corporate B737-700. Two Learjet 45 are used to ferry engineers to aircraft that have gone “tech”.

As the company expanded, it opened bases around Europe. The largest outside UK and Ireland being Milan-Bergamo and Brussels Charleroi. More complaints ensued when customers discovered they would not be arriving at a city’s main airport. An example was Oslo, where the chosen airport is located over 100km from the city centre. Of course, Ryanair then profited from onboard ticket sales for public transport.

In 2014, the airline finally acknowledged its treatment of customers was harsh. A charm offensive began, to primarily attract families. Headline-grabbing statements in the media have now subsided, as some drew unwanted attention from aviation regulators. Window blind removal an example; they are required under Irish aviation law. After the effects of Covid-19 on the aviation industry, Ryanair seemed to resume operations quicker than other European carriers. 

Breaking away from history, here’s a sample of greetings posted on a business travel forum.

“You’ve certainly made a difference …You’re brash, rude and often downright arrogant…You’re also friendly as you welcome me on board. So, thank you for making it possible to travel on many mini breaks from my home airport to some fantastic destinations that other airlines wouldn’t have considered. My one birthday wish for you next year…be nice to your staff, especially your cabin crew who generally carry out their duties as if they were paid a ransoms salary, rather than being held to ransom”

“You turned the industry on its head, you forced the legacy carriers to drop their fares and standards through the floor. You made travel available to the masses who would not previously have been able to travel, many of whom are not fit to do so. You flooded destinations all over Europe with the wrong type of tourists who ruined the places for the more discriminating, and in doing so you made life unbearable for many of the locals who were forced out of being able to enjoy the facilities of their home towns. On the other hand, a lot of people made money from those tourists. You generated a perceived need for people to travel, adding to carbon emissions by increasing the number of aircraft flying. Apart from the above, as long as I never have to fly with you, I am your greatest fan as you keep the type of people whom I prefer to avoid off the airlines I choose to fly on. Michael O’Leary, I admire for his plain speaking and shooting at sacred cows. We need more straight talkers like him, people who fight back against convention”.

“…flying Ryanair is akin to playing chess. Or even participating in a boxing match.
It’s important that you know how to play the game, and its rules

1st rule: In this game, you need to accept that your opponent sets the rules
2nd rule: Never believe you can bend the rules, and always remember rule 1
3rd rule: Like every opponent your skill should eventually expose vulnerabilities that you can manipulate and take advantage of
4th rule : When you win, never ever gloat, by doing so you risk strengthening your opponent’s resolve for the next match. See rule 1 again”.

Information courtesy of Business Traveller, Wikipedia

Image courtesy of Ryanair