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Ryanair Holdings PLC
Founded 28 November 1984; 39 years ago (1984-11-28)
Commenced operations 8 July 1985; 38 years ago (1985-07-08)
Operating bases
  • Ryanair DAC
  • Malta Air
  • Buzz
  • Lauda Europe
  • Ryanair UK
Fleet size 575
Destinations 235
Parent company Ryanair Holdings PLC
Headquarters Swords, Dublin, Ireland
Key people
Revenue Increase 10.775 billion (2023)
Net income Increase €1.314 billion (2023)
Total assets Increase €16.406 billion (2023)
Total equity Increase €5.643 billion (2023)
Employees 19,000 (2022)

Ryanair Holdings PLC is an Irish ultra low-cost carrier group headquartered in Swords, Dublin, Ireland. The company includes the subsidiaries Ryanair DAC, Malta Air, Buzz, Lauda Europe and Ryanair UK. Ryanair DAC, the oldest airline of the group, was founded in 1984. Ryanair Holdings was established in 1996 as a holding company for Ryanair with the two companies having the same board of directors and executive officers. In 2019 the transition began from the airline Ryanair and its subsidiaries into separate sister airlines under the holding company. Later in 2019 Malta Air joined Ryanair Holdings.

Ryanair has been characterised by its rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model. The group operates more than 500 planes. Its route network serves over 40 countries in Europe, North Africa (Morocco), and the Middle East (Israel and Jordan). The primary operational bases are at Dublin, London Stansted and Milan Bergamo airports. Ryanair is Ireland's biggest airline and in 2016 became the world's largest airline by scheduled international passengers.

The company has at times been criticised for its refusal to issue invoices for the VAT-exempt services it provides (airfares), poor working conditions, heavy use of extra charges, poor customer service, and tendency to intentionally generate controversy in order to gain publicity.


Since its establishment in 1984, Ryanair has grown from a small airline, flying the short journey from Waterford to London Gatwick, into Europe's largest carrier. There have been over 19,000 people working for the company, most employed and contracted by agencies to fly on Ryanair aircraft.

The airline went public in 1997, and the money raised was used to expand the airline into a pan-European carrier. Revenues have risen from 231 million in 1998 to €1.843 billion in 2003 and to €3.013 billion in 2010. Similarly, net profits have increased from €48 million to €339 million over the same period.

Early years

Ryanair EMB-110
Ryanair Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante in 1988
Ryanair ATR-42-300
Ryanair ATR 42-300 in 1991

Ryanair was founded in 1984 as "Danren Enterprises" by Christopher Ryan, Liam Lonergan (owner of Irish travel agent Club Travel), and Irish businessman Tony Ryan, founder of Guinness Peat Aviation. The airline was shortly renamed "Ryanair". It began operations in 1985 flying a 15-seat Embraer Bandeirante turboprop aircraft between Waterford and Gatwick Airport.

The first chief executive was Eugene O'Neill (1956–2018), who had formerly worked as managing director of Ryan's Sunday Tribune newspaper and as Ryan's personal assistant. O'Neill was talented at marketing but did not focus on costs, and the airline lost money in its early years. Ryan vetoed O'Neill's proposal to take Aer Lingus to the European Commission for breach of competition rules, because at the time Aer Lingus was state-owned and Ryanair depended on the Irish government for its route licences. Ryan sacked O'Neill in September 1987, who sued for wrongful dismissal.

In 1986, the company added a second route from Dublin to Luton, thus directly competing with the Aer Lingus/British Airways duopoly for the first time. Under partial European Economic Community (EEC) deregulation, airlines could begin new international intra-EEC services as long as one of the two governments approved (the so-called "double-disapproval" regime). The Irish government at the time refused its approval to protect Aer Lingus, but Britain, under Margaret Thatcher's deregulating Conservative government, approved the service. With two routes and two aircraft, the fledgling airline carried 82,000 passengers in one year.

In 1986, the directors of Ryanair took an 85% stake in London European Airways. From 1987, this provided a connection with the Luton Ryanair service onward to Amsterdam and Brussels. In 1988, London European operated as Ryanair Europe and later began to operate charter services. That same year, Michael O'Leary joined the company as chief financial officer. In 1989, a Short Sandringham was operated with Ryanair sponsorship titles but never flew revenue-generating services for the airline.

Due to decreasing profits, the company restructured in 1990, copying the low-fares model of Southwest Airlines, after O'Leary visited the company.


Ryanair BAC 111 EI-BVI
Ryanair operated BAC 1-11 series 500 aircraft between 1988 and 1993
Ryanair 737-200 EI-CKS
Ryanair Boeing 737-200 in 2003
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 in SXF
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 in a former livery

In 1992, the European Union's 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 and the NASDAQ stock exchanges, the airline launched services to Stockholm, Sandefjord Airport, Torp (110 km south of Oslo), Beauvais–Tillé northwest of Paris, 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.

In 1994, Michael O'Leary became the sixth chief executive officer. Ryan clashed with O'Leary, with Ryan wanting the airline's PR stunts to be less aggressive, and O'Leary suggesting that Ryan should leave the board.

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 online booking contributed to the aim of cutting flight prices by selling directly to passengers and excluding the costs imposed by travel agents. Within a year, the website was handling three-quarters of all bookings. By December 2023 the website hit 40M monthly visits.

Ryanair launched a new base of operation in Charleroi Airport in 2001. Later that year, the airline ordered 155 new 737-800 aircraft from Boeing at what was believed to be a substantial discount, to be delivered over eight years from 2002 to 2010. Approximately 100 of these aircraft had been delivered by the end of 2005, although there were slight delays in late 2005 caused by production disruptions arising from a Boeing machinists' strike.

In April 2003, Ryanair acquired its ailing competitor Buzz from KLM.

During 2004, Michael O'Leary warned of a "bloodbath" during the winter from which only two or three low-cost airlines would emerge, the expectation is that these would be Ryanair and EasyJet. A loss of €3.3 million in the second quarter of 2004 was the airline's first recorded loss for 15 years but the airline became profitable soon after. The enlargement of the European Union on 1 May 2004 opened the way to more new routes for Ryanair.

The rapid addition of new routes and new bases has enabled growth in passenger numbers and made Ryanair among the largest carriers on European routes. In August 2005, the airline claimed to have carried 20% more passengers within Europe than British Airways.

For the six months ending on 30 September 2006, passenger traffic grew by more than a fifth to 22.1 million passengers and revenues rose by a third to €1.256 billion.

On 13 February 2006, Britain's Channel 4 broadcast a documentary as part of its Dispatches series, "Ryanair caught napping". The documentary criticised Ryanair's training policies, security procedures and aircraft hygiene, and highlighted poor staff morale. Ryanair denied the allegations and claimed that promotional materials, in particular a photograph of a stewardess sleeping, had been faked by Dispatches.

On 5 October 2006, Ryanair launched a €1.48 billion (£1 billion; $1.9 billion) bid to buy fellow Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus. On 5 October 2006, Aer Lingus rejected Ryanair's takeover bid, saying it was contradictory.

Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary, stated in April 2007 that Ryanair planned to launch a new long-haul airline around 2009. The new airline would be separate from Ryanair and operate under different branding. It would offer both low costs with fares starting at €10.00 and a business class service which would be much more expensive, intended to rival airlines like Virgin Atlantic. The new airline would operate from Ryanair's existing bases in Europe to approximately six new bases in the United States. The new American bases will not be main bases such as New York's JFK airport, but smaller airports located outside major cities. Since the Boeing 787 was sold out of production until at least 2012, and the Airbus A350 XWB will not enter service until 2014, this contributed to a delay in the airline's launch. It was said that the name of the new airline would be RyanAtlantic and it would sell tickets through the Ryanair website under an alliance agreement. In February 2010, O'Leary said the launch would be delayed until 2014, at the earliest, because of the shortage of suitable, cheap aircraft.

In August 2007, the company started charging passengers to check in at the airport, therefore reversing its policy of paying for online check-in. It says that cutting airport check-in reduces overhead costs.

In October 2008, Ryanair withdrew operations from a base in Europe for the first time when it closed its base in Valencia, Spain. Ryanair estimated the closure cost 750 jobs.

On 1 December 2008, Ryanair launched a second takeover bid of Aer Lingus, offering an all-cash offer of €748 million (£619 mils; US$950 million). The offer was a 28% premium on the value of Aer Lingus stock, during the preceding 30 days. Ryanair said, "Aer Lingus, as a small, stand-alone, regional airline, has been marginalised and bypassed, as most other EU flag carriers consolidate." The two airlines would operate separately. Ryanair stated it would double the Aer Lingus short-haul fleet from 33 to 66 and create 1,000 new jobs. The Aer Lingus board rejected the offer and advised its shareholders to take no action. On 22 January 2009, Ryanair walked away from the Aer Lingus takeover bid after it was rejected by the Irish government on the grounds it undervalued the airline and would harm competition. However, Ryanair retained a stake in Aer Lingus; in October 2010, competition regulators in the UK opened an inquiry, due to concerns that Ryanair's stake may lead to a reduction in competition.

In 2009, Ryanair announced that it was in talks with Boeing and Airbus about an order that could include up to 200 aircraft. Even though Ryanair had dealt with Boeing aircraft up to that point, Michael O'Leary said he would buy Airbus aircraft if it offered a better deal. Airbus Chief Commercial Officer John Leahy denied in February 2009 that any negotiations were taking place.

On 21 February 2009, Ryanair confirmed it was planning to close all check-in desks by the start of 2010. Michael O'Leary, Ryanair's chief executive, said passengers would be able to leave their luggage at a bag drop, but everything else would be done online. This became reality in October 2009.

In June 2009, Ryanair reported its first annual loss, with a loss posted of €169 million for the financial year ending 31 March.

In November 2009, Ryanair announced that negotiations with Boeing had proceeded poorly and that Ryanair was thinking of stopping the negotiations, then putting at 200 aircraft for delivery between 2013 and 2016, and simply returning cash to shareholders. Boeing's competitor Airbus was mentioned again as an alternative vendor for Ryanair, but both Michael O'Leary and Airbus CCO John Leahy dismissed this. In December 2009, Ryanair confirmed that negotiations with Boeing had indeed failed. Plans were to take all 112 aircraft already on order at that point, with the last deliveries occurring in 2012, for a total fleet of over 300. Ryanair confirmed that an agreement had been met on price, but it had failed to agree on conditions, as Ryanair had wanted to carry forward certain conditions from its previous contract.


Interior Ryanair
Cabin on board a Ryanair Boeing 737-800 showing advertisements on the overhead lockers until 2014
16-11-16-Glasgow Airport-RR2 7312
Ryanair service counter at Glasgow International Airport, Scotland
Ryanair Abflughalle at Bremen Airport 001
Ryanair check-in area at Bremen Airport, Germany
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 EI-DAK 2 (27632982163)
Ryanair maintenance hangars at London Stansted Airport, England

In April 2010, after a week of flight disruption in Europe caused by the 2010 eruptions of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, Ryanair decided to end refusals to comply with EU regulations which stated it was obliged to reimburse stranded passengers. In a company statement released on 22 April 2010, Ryanair described the regulations as 'unfair'. On 29 April 2010, Ryanair cancelled all of its routes from Budapest Liszt Ferenc Airport after talks with the airport's management on reducing fees failed. As the airport is the only one serving Budapest, there is no lower-cost airport nearby. In June 2010, Ryanair called for the Irish government to scrap its tourist tax, implying it was destroying tourism in Ireland. In August 2010, Ryanair held a press conference in Plovdiv and announced its first-ever Bulgarian destination connecting Plovdiv with London Stansted. The service was planned to start in November 2010 with two flights weekly. In late 2010, Ryanair began withdrawing all routes from its smallest base, Belfast City, and Shannon due to increased airport fees.

In the last three months of 2010, Ryanair made a loss of €10.3 million, compared with a loss of €10.9 million in the same period the previous year. More than 3,000 flights were cancelled in the quarter. Ryanair blamed the losses on strikes and flight cancellations due to severe weather.

In March 2011, Ryanair opened a new maintenance hangar at Glasgow Prestwick International Airport, making it Ryanair's biggest fleet maintenance base. In June 2011, Ryanair and COMAC signed an agreement to cooperate on the development of the C-919, a Boeing 737 competitor.

Ryanair cut capacity by grounding 80 aircraft between November 2011 and April 2012 due to the high cost of fuel and continuing weak economic conditions.

On 19 June 2012, Ryanair Chief Executive Michael O'Leary announced his intention to make an all-cash offer for Aer Lingus. The bid was blocked by the European Commission in 2017, which had also blocked an earlier bid.

According to research in October 2013, Ryanair was the cheapest low-cost airline in Europe in basic price (excluding fees) but was the fourth cheapest when fees were included.

On 25 October 2013, Ryanair announced what it described as a series of "customer service improvements", to take place over the next six months. These included lower fees for reprinting boarding passes, free changes of minor errors on bookings within 24 hours, and a free second small carry-on bag. Ryanair said it was making the changes as a result of customer feedback.

On 27 January 2014, Ryanair moved into a new €20m, 100,000 sq ft Dublin head office in Airside Business Park, having outgrown its previous office within Dublin Airport. The building was officially opened on Thursday 3 April 2014 by the then Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Finance Michael Noonan and the Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisin Quinn.

On 8 September 2014, Ryanair agreed to purchase up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX 8s (100 confirmed and 100 options) for over $22 billion.

The airline confirmed plans to open an operating base at Milan Malpensa Airport in December 2015, initially with one aircraft.

On 9 March 2016, Ryanair launched a corporate jet charter service, offering a Boeing 737-700 for corporate or group hire.

In November 2016, Ryanair launched a new package holiday service named Ryanair Holidays. The new service offers flights, accommodation, and transfer packages. The service was launched in Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany, with other markets to follow. Ryanair partnered with Spain-based tour operator, Logitravel, and accommodation provider, World2Meet, to create Ryanair Holidays.

In April 2017, Ryanair started issuing tickets for connecting flights, meaning if a connection is missed, the customer will be rebooked at no extra cost and compensated according to the EU Flight Compensation Regulation. To begin with, such tickets were only sold for flights with connections at Rome-Fiumicino airport.

In 2017, the company announced plans to add 50 new aircraft to its fleet every year for the next five years, aiming to reach 160 million passengers by the early 2020s, up from 120 million passengers.

Abandoning the single-airline strategy

For over a decade, Ryanair had only operated with its Irish Air Operator's Certificate and solely under the Ryanair brand. However, starting in 2018 the airline began introducing additional brands and operating on multiple certificates in different countries.

SP-RSA (44724544240)
Boeing 737 operated by Polish Ryanair Sun subsidiary, recognisable only through Polish aircraft registration

In 2017, Ryanair announced that it would launch an independent Polish subsidiary in 2018, operating charter flights from Poland to Mediterranean destinations. Aside from turning away from the company's policy of only operating on a single Air Operator's Certificate, the step also meant that Ryanair would be launching charter flights after having focused only on scheduled operations before. The subsidiary was branded Ryanair Sun and received its Polish Air Operator's Certificate in April 2018 and subsequently launched Initially, it had only one former Ryanair Boeing 737-800 and complemented its operation with wet-leased aircraft from its mother company. In late 2018, Ryanair Sun was expanded by transferring all Polish-based Ryanair aircraft to it. The decision was made in the wake of staff costs and unions. As a consequence, Ryanair Sun mainly operated scheduled flights on behalf of its mother company using Ryanair's FR flight numbers. Ryanair Sun was rebranded Buzz in 2019.

Also in 2018, Ryanair expanded its portfolio with Austrian-based Laudamotion, later renamed "Lauda". Laudamotion was the successor of Niki, which had folded as a consequence of the Air Berlin demise. The company was founded by Niki Lauda. Initially, Ryanair purchased a 25-per cent share in Laudamotion to increase the share to 75 per cent pending government approval. The deal was announced in March 2018 ahead of the carrier's launch in June 2018. After increasing its share to 75 per cent, Ryanair fully acquired the Austrian airline in December 2018.

Ryanair UK was established in December 2017 in anticipation of Brexit. Its first aircraft, G-RUKA, was transferred from Ryanair DAC in 2018, with a second aircraft following in 2019. As of April 2023, Ryanair UK has 13 aircraft.

On 23 Aug 2018, Ryanair announced a new baggage policy. Under this policy, Priority Boarding allows for a larger and a smaller bag, capped by the capacity on the airplane. The company claimed this reduces turnaround times and simplifies the baggage policy. After this, many other low cost airlines introduced similar policies, for example Wizz Air.

On 28 September 2018, pilots, cabin crew and other staff called for a strike due to the transition from workers being employed on Irish contracts and subject to Irish legislation to their own countries' labour laws, along with an issue in their pay. Due to the lobbying of the crew and walk-outs of pilots, the airline had to cancel 250 flights, which affected around 40,000 passengers.

In early 2019 due to the transition inside the holdings company, each airline (Ryanair, LaudaMotion, Ryanair Sun and Ryanair UK) got its own CEO and management team. Edward Wilson became the CEO of the airline Ryanair and Michael O'Leary became the Group CEO.

On 9 June 2019, Ryanair announced, together with the Government of Malta, that it would establish a new airline called Malta Air (not to be confused with Air Malta), which will consist of an initial fleet of ten aircraft and assume the 61 flights currently operated by Ryanair from the island. The fleet was registered in Malta while a new repair and maintenance hangar was also set up. Ryanair transferred all its existing Maltese operations to the new airline and its fleet was expected to increase from the six Boeing 737-800 aircraft currently allocated to the Malta market to ten (all to be in Malta Air colours) by mid-2020.


Ryanair B738 at EIN
Ryanair Boeing 737-800 with registration EI-EBA at Eindhoven Airport

The carrier's CEO made comments at the A4E Aviation Summit in Brussels on 3 March 2020. Michael O'Leary said that he expected people to get 'bored' of the COVID-19 pandemic and saw a recovery by the summer of 2020. That changed, with Ryanair announcing in a statement that it expected demand to return to 2019 levels by the summer of 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Ryanair. While the CEO, Michael O'Leary, remained adamant that state aid was not an option, the carrier announced several changes to its operations. This included the loss of 3000 jobs, announced on 1 May 2020, which affected mainly pilots and cabin crew. This came as the airline announced it would suspend the majority of its operations until June 2020. In July 2020, Ryanair's CEO, Michael O'Leary announced that the company had made a net loss of €185 million in the period April–June 2020. In comparison, in the same period of 2019, the firm made a net profit of €243 million. In September 2020, the airline threatened to leave Ireland due to COVID-19 restrictions. Despite their original plan, to fly 60% of the previous year's schedule, in October 2020, the company decided to reduce the number of flights between the period of November 2020 – March 2021 to 40%. According to O'Leary, this was a result of "government mismanagement of EU air travel" as the quarantine travel measures were loosened. By the end of December 2020, the airline reported an 83% drop in annual passengers, from 2019.

In December 2020, Ryanair increased its order for Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft by 75, to a total of 210 aircraft, for delivery from early 2021 to December 2024.

Due to the persisting COVID-19 pandemic, Ryanair expected losses of between €800m and €850m in their fiscal year of 2021. Only 27.5 million passengers flew compared to 148.6 million passengers in the previous financial year. The full financial report was released on 17 May 2021. The company reported a record annual loss of $989 million.

In May 2023 Ryanair confirmed an order with Boeing to purchase 300 Boeing 737-MAX 10 aircraft, with a total list price of $40 billion (€36.3bn). The deal included 150 firm orders and options for 150 more, for delivery between 2027 and 2033. Half of this order would replace withdrawn 737-800s. The order followed an 18-month public argument with Boeing over pricing, and Ryanair ultimately achieved a lower discount than their previous orders.

While Ryanair had previously returned cash to shareholders via share buybacks and one-off distributions, they announced their first regular dividend in November 2023.

In December 2023, Ryanair became the most valuable airline in the world and the largest airline outside the US. In 2024, they were again the "largest player in the region".

Ryanair announced a $1.4 billion investment in Morocco for its Summer 2024 schedule, its largest in the country, including over 1,100 weekly flights on 175 routes, with 35 new ones. This expansion features Ryanair's introduction of ultra-low fares on 11 domestic routes - a first in Africa, aiming to boost internal connectivity and traffic growth. The plan includes a new base in Tangier with two aircraft and first flights to Beni Mellal and Errachidia. The investment, expected to deliver over 5 million passengers, supports over 500 direct jobs and stimulates economic growth across 12 cities. Ryanair's CEO, Eddie Wilson, highlighted the partnership's role in enhancing tourism and connectivity with fares from MAD330 each way.

Corporate affairs

Business trends

The key trends for the Ryanair Group over recent years are (as of the financial year ending 31 March):

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
Turnover (€m) 2,988 3,629 4,390 4,884 5,037 5,654 6,536 6,648 7,151 7,697 8,495 1,636 4,801 10,780
Profit after tax (€m) 305 375 560 569 523 867 1,559 1,316 1,450 885 649 −1,015 −241 1,314
Number of employees (average) 7,032 8,063 8,438 9,059 9,501 9,586 10,926 12,438 13,803 15,938 17,268 15,016 19,116 22,261
Number of passengers (m) 67 72 76 79 82 91 106 120 130 142 148 28 97 169
Passenger load factor (%) 82 83 82 82 83 88 93 94 95 96 95 71 82 93
Number of served airports 153 158 159 167 186 190 200 207 216 219 242 225 223 222
Number of served countries 27 27 28 28 30 30 33 34 37 37 40 37 36 36
Number of aircraft (at year-end) 232 272 294 305 297 308 341 383 431 471 466 451 500 537

In 2023 the group had about 6,600 pilots and 13,400 cabin crew, 2,200 employees in administration, IT labs, ground operations and maintenance as well as 125 employees in the management.

As of January 2024 the group expects a net profit of €1.85–1.95 billion for the financial year 2024.

Head office

Ryanair HQ
Former Ryanair Headquarters in Dublin Airport
Ryanair logo
Ryanair's old logo, used from 2001 to 2013
Ryanair logo 2013(1)
Ryanair's previous logo was used from November 2013 to July 2015, when a new logo with a white background was introduced. This logo was first revealed in January 2010.

The head office of Ryanair has been in the Airside Business Park in Swords, County Dublin, Ireland, since 2014. David Daly, a developer, had built the facility before Ryanair's 2012 purchase. The building has 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of space, and the airline paid €11 million to occupy the building. According to John Mulligan of the Irish Independent, it was thought that Ryanair would refurbish the building for another €9 million. Previously, since 2004, the head office had been on the property of Dublin Airport, in proximity to the Aer Lingus head office. Darley Investments built the facility in 1992. Ryanair later purchased Darley and had a 30-year lease of the head office facility from the Department of Transport of Ireland. The company negotiated to pay no rent for 12 years, then €122,000/year until 2008, then €244,000/year for the remainder of the lease.


Ryanair has several low-cost competitors. Although traditionally a full-service airline, Aer Lingus moved to a low-fares strategy from 2002, leading to a much more intense competition with Ryanair on Irish routes. Ryanair is a member of Airlines for Europe, having formerly been a member of the defunct European Low Fares Airline Association.

Airlines that attempt to compete directly with Ryanair are treated competitively, with Ryanair being accused by some of reducing fares to significantly undercut its competitors. In response to MyTravelLite, which started to compete with Ryanair on Birmingham to Dublin route in 2003, Ryanair set up competing flights on some of MyTravelLite's routes until it pulled out. Go was another airline that attempted to offer services from Ryanair's base in Dublin to Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. A fierce battle ensued, which ended with Go withdrawing its service from Dublin.

In September 2004, Ryanair's biggest competitor, EasyJet, announced routes to Ireland for the first time, beginning with the Cork to London Gatwick route. Until then, EasyJet had never competed directly with Ryanair on its home ground. EasyJet later withdrew its Gatwick-Cork, Gatwick-Shannon, Gatwick-Knock and Luton-Shannon routes.

In 2012, Ryanair also responded to the decision of another low-cost carrier, Wizz Air, that planned to move its flight operations from Warsaw Chopin Airport in Poland to the new low-cost Warsaw Modlin Airport in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki. Ryanair had previously operated the route to Dublin from Warsaw but withdrew, claiming that the fees at Warsaw's main airport were too high. When Wizz Air began operations from Modlin Airport, Ryanair began several new routes from the same airport, most of which were identical to routes offered by Wizz Air.

In 2008, Ryanair asked the Irish High Court to investigate why it had been refused permission to fly from Knock to Dublin. This route was won by CityJet, which could not operate the service. The runner-up, Aer Arann, was then allowed to start flights, a move Ryanair criticises as the basis of not initiating an additional tender process was unlawful.

DFDS Seaways cited competition from low-cost air services, especially Ryanair, which now flies to Edinburgh Airport and London Stansted Airport from Göteborg Landvetter Airport, as the reason for scrapping the NewcastleGothenburg ferry service in October 2006. It was the only dedicated passenger ferry service between Sweden and the United Kingdom and had been running under various operators since the 19th century.


European countries in which ryainar operates2
Countries in which Ryanair operates (February 2024)

Ryanair's largest base is at London-Stansted, followed by its home base at Dublin Airport. Ryanair operates bases across Europe, some parts of the Middle East, and North Africa.

Ryanair traditionally prefers to fly to smaller or secondary airports, such as London Stansted or Paris Beauvais, usually outside major cities to help the company benefit from lower landing fees and quick turn-around times to reduce costs. Ryanair has even referred to Bratislava Airport in Slovakia as "Bratislava Vienna", despite Vienna being 80 km (50 mi) away in another country. In some cases, secondary airports are not distant from the city they serve, and can be closer than the city's major airport; this is the case at Rome Ciampino Airport.

Ryanair does still serve several major airports, including Amsterdam Schiphol, Stockholm Arlanda, Athens, Barcelona El Prat, Bucharest-Otopeni, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Lisbon, London-Gatwick, Madrid Barajas, Marseille, Oslo-Gardermoen and Rome-Fiumicino. Some of these cities do not have a viable secondary airport that Ryanair could use as an alternative. More recently, Ryanair has grown more at primary airports as it looks to attract more business passengers. In the summer of 2014, the airline opened bases in Athens, Lisbon and the primary airports of Brussels and Rome for the first time.

Ryanair flies in a point to-point model rather than the more traditional airline hub and spoke model where the passengers have to change aircraft in transit at a major airport, usually being able to reach more destinations this way. In April 2017 Ryanair added connecting flights to its portfolio, starting with a new transfer hub in Rome Fiumicino Airport (FCO). Despite it being an Irish airline, it also has a significant presence in France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom as well as many other European countries. Currently, its biggest country market is Italy, with fourteen bases and nine non-base airports.

Ryanair's largest competitor is EasyJet which has a far greater focus on larger or primary airports such as Amsterdam and Paris-Charles de Gaulle, heavily targeting business passengers. Ryanair also serves sun and beach destinations with bases in Sicily, the Canary Islands, Cyprus, the Greek Islands, and Malta among others. In August 2014, the airline unveiled ambitious plans to establish a major hub in Israel to service a broad range of European routes. In December 2014 Ryanair announced plans to open its 72nd base in 2015 in the Azores. In February 2018, due to the Scottish Government not abolishing or reducing Air Passenger Duty (APD), Ryanair announced that it would cut many flights out of Glasgow Airport resulting in the airline closing its base there. The only routes out of Glasgow by the end of October were Dublin, Kraków and Wroclaw, with the rest being suspended permanently. This resulted in the loss of 300 members of airport staff. In April 2019, the airline reinstated four of its routes; to Alicante, Brussels, Málaga and Warsaw. In 2022, Ryanair announced that it would close its base at Frankfurt Airport in a row over fees, with the loss of 17 routes. The five aircraft based there are to be based in other locations throughout Europe.

Top airports by destinations
(only 48+ destinations)
November 2020
Airport IATA Destinations
Republic of Ireland Dublin DUB 122
United Kingdom London-Stansted STN 95
United Kingdom Manchester MAN 87
Italy Bergamo BGY 81
Austria Vienna VIE 77
Spain Malaga AGP 77
Spain Alicante ALC 75
Poland Kraków KRK 74
Belgium Brussels–Charleroi CRL 73
Spain Palma de Mallorca PMI 71
United Kingdom Edinburgh EDI 64
Malta Malta MLA 61
Germany Berlin BER 58
Spain Barcelona BCN 58
Portugal Porto OPO 57
Portugal Lisbon LIS 53
Italy Palermo PMO 52
Italy Bologna BLQ 51
France Marseille MRS 48
Top airports by destinations 2007–17
City destinations retention
Republic of Ireland Dublin 185 73%
United Kingdom London-Stansted 132 69%
Italy Bergamo 124 65%
Belgium Brussels–Charleroi 116 70%
Spain Girona 112 35%
Germany Hahn 103 44%
Germany Weeze 97 45%
Spain Alicante 90 61%
Spain Madrid 86 57%
Italy Pisa 86 53%

Choosing destinations

When Ryanair negotiates with airport operators, it demands very low landing and handling fees, as well as financial assistance with marketing and promotional campaigns. In subsequent contract renewal negotiations, the airline has been reported to play airports against each other, threatening to withdraw services and deploy the aircraft elsewhere, if the airport does not make further concessions. According to Michael O'Leary's biography, A Life in Full Flight, Ryanair's growing popularity and also growing bargaining power, with both airports and aircraft manufacturers, has resulted in the airline being less concerned about a market research/demographics approach to route selection to one based more on experimentation. This means it is more likely to fly its aircraft between the lowest-cost airports in anticipation that its presence alone on that route will be sufficient to create a demand which previously may not have existed, either in whole or in part.

In April 2006, a failure to reach an agreement on a new commercial contract resulted in Ryanair announcing that it would withdraw service on the Dublin–Cardiff route at short notice. The airport management rebutted Ryanair's assertion that airport charges were unreasonably high, claiming that the Cardiff charges were already below Ryanair's average and claimed that Ryanair had recently adopted the same negotiating approach with Cork Airport and London Stansted Airport. In 2009, Ryanair was reported to have adopted "harsh" negotiating with Shannon Airport, threatening to close 75% of its operations there from April 2010. Ryanair was forced to give up its Rome Ciampino–Alghero route, after the route was allocated to Air One, as a public service obligation (PSO) route. The European Commission is investigating the actions of the Italian government in assigning PSO routes and thus restricting competition. In 2016, Ryanair withdrew over half of its flights from Rygge airport in Norway, after which the airport decided to close down totally, as it was privately owned and would make a loss on the low traffic volume.

In some cases, and more frequently as time has gone on, Ryanair has decided to use large airports where it is not dominant and pay the normal fees. Examples include Barcelona, Oslo, Copenhagen and Manchester, where the carrier increased flights in 2021.


Ryanair Boeing 737-800 EI-EBX
A Ryanair Boeing 737-800.

Current group fleet

In August 2023, the Ryanair Group fleet consisted of the following aircraft:

Ryanair fleet
Aircraft In service Orders Passengers Operator Notes
Airbus A320-200 27 180 Lauda Europe
Boeing 737-700 1 148 Buzz Used for holiday charters operated for Polish tour companies. SP-RUM
Boeing 737-800 410 222 189 Ryanair Largest operator.
125 Malta Air
50 Buzz
13 Ryanair UK
Boeing 737 MAX 10 150 228 TBA Order with 150 options.
Deliveries from 2027.
Boeing 737 MAX 200 136 74 74 197 Ryanair Largest operator.
Deliveries until 2025.
36 Malta Air
13 Buzz
Total 574 224
239ah - Ryanair Boeing 737-300; G-BZZG@STN;27.05.2003 (8189643691)
A former Ryanair 737-300 with a Continental Airlines hybrid livery.

Former fleet

Ryanair has operated the following types of aircraft in the past:

Ryanair past fleet
Aircraft Number Introduced Retired Notes/Refs
ATR 42-300 Unknown 1989 1991
BAC One-Eleven 500 Unknown 1986 1994
Convair 580 Unknown 1988 1988 Operated by Partnair
Boeing 737-200 21 1994 2005 Replaced by 737-800. Ryanair sold its fleet of 20 737-200 aircraft to Autodirect Aviation LLC for $8.1 million in October 2004.
6 Aircraft had already been retired and the remaining 14 were transferred between 2004 and 2005.
Boeing 737-300 7 2002 2004 Replaced by Boeing 737-800
Boeing 737-400 1 2004 2005 Leased from Air Atlanta Icelandic and AirExplore (during Summer 2014).
Embraer EMB 110 Bandeirante Unknown 1985 1989
Hawker Siddeley HS 748 Unknown 1986 1990
Short S-25 Sunderland 5 Unknown 1989 1989 Sunderland G-BJHS was painted for a proposed sponsorship between Ryanair and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, but this did not happen, and the aircraft was returned to a white and blue livery.

Fleet development

Following the 2019 grounding of all 737 MAX aircraft, Ryanair initially reaffirmed its confidence in the aircraft and indicated that it would be ready to place a new order once it had returned to service; it would seek a reduced price instead of cash compensation. In July that year, it warned that some of its bases would be subject to short-term closures in 2020, due to the shortfall in MAX deliveries, and pointed out that the MAX 200 version it has ordered will require separate certification expected to take a further two months after the MAX returns to service. In the same month, O'Leary expressed concerns and frustration with the certification delays and revealed that, in parallel with discussions with Boeing regarding a potential order for new aircraft to be delivered from 2023, he was also talking to Airbus which was offering very aggressive pricing.

As of March 2018, the average age of the Ryanair fleet was around 6.5 years, roughly 2 years older than some of the competition. When Boeing builds an aircraft for Ryanair, it is allocated the customer code AS, which appears in its aircraft designation as an infix, such as 737-8AS.

Ryanair's fleet reached 200 aircraft for the first time on 5 September 2009. All aircraft in the Ryanair fleet have been retrofitted with performance-enhancing winglets and the more recent deliveries have them fitted as standard.

The company also owns four Learjet 45 business jets, based at London Stansted Airport and Bergamo Airport but registered in the Isle of Man, which are mainly used for the quick transportation of maintenance personnel and small aircraft parts around the network.

On 13 March 2013, Ryanair signed an order for 175 new Boeing 737-800s. In the press conference announcing the order, Michael O'Leary said Ryanair was still evaluating the possibility of the Boeing 737 MAX and stated its huge order in March was for the Boeing 737 Next Generation rather than the 737 MAX as it needed aircraft before the 737 MAX would enter service.

On 30 April 2014, Ryanair confirmed that it had ordered five more aircraft to add to its fleet, four of them to be delivered in 2015 and the last one to be delivered in February 2016, to bring the number of aircraft on order to 180.

In the Summer of 2014, Ryanair contracted AirExplore to operate some of their summer flights between London Stansted and Dublin airport.

Ryanair also showed interest in other aircraft, including the Comac C919, when it signed a design agreement with Comac in 2011 to help produce a rival jet to Boeing's offerings. At the Paris Airshow in 2013, Michael O'Leary stated that Comac could build a larger version of the C919 aircraft that would hold up to 200 passengers.

On 8 September 2014, Ryanair committed to ordering 100 new Boeing 737 MAX 8s (plus options for an additional 100) for delivery in 2019.

On 1 December 2014, the airline finalised its order for up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX 200s, a version of the 737 MAX 8 for low-cost airlines, named after the fact that they can carry 200 passengers. The order includes 100 firm and 100 purchase rights. This makes Ryanair the launch customer of the Boeing 737 MAX 200.

After delays due to the grounding of the 737 MAX, the first 737 MAX 200 was finally delivered to Ryanair on 16 June 2021. Twelve deliveries were expected for the summer 2021 season (6 for Ryanair and 6 for Malta Air) and a further 50 by summer 2022.

In July 2021, it was announced that Ryanair had already handed back all of its leased B737s, which were replaced by incoming B737 MAX 200 aircraft. The carrier expects to sell more of its older aircraft in the future.

In November 2022 the company announced it would have 124 Boeing 737 MAX 200 by summer 2023, reducing the number of unfulfilled orders to 86 aircraft.

In January 2023, the first Ryanair 737-800 to be retrofitted with split scimitar winglets entered service. The winglets reduce fuel burn by 1.5% and are to be fitted to all existing −800 aircraft in the Ryanair fleet.

On 30 January 2023, Ryanair Holdings CFO Neil Sorahan said that the A320 leases are extended to 2028.

Accidents and incidents

  • On 10 November 2008, Ryanair Flight 4102, from Frankfurt–Hahn Airport, suffered undercarriage damage in an emergency landing at Rome–Ciampino Airport, after experiencing bird strikes, which damaged both engines on approach. There were six crew members and 166 passengers on board. Two crew members and eight passengers were taken to hospital with minor injuries. The port undercarriage of the Boeing 737-800 collapsed, leaving the aircraft stranded on the runway and closing the airport for over 35 hours. As well as damage to the engines and undercarriage, the rear fuselage was also damaged by contact with the runway. The aircraft involved was damaged beyond repair and was scrapped. The final report of the accident, investigated by ANSV (National Flight Safety Agency) was released on 20 December 2018, more than 10 years after the accident and only in Italian. An English translation was provided by Aviation Accident Database.
  • On 23 May 2021, Ryanair Flight 4978 (Athens–Vilnius) carrying 6 crew and 126 passengers was diverted to Minsk National Airport after a false bomb threat was made while the aircraft was 45 nautical miles (83 km; 52 mi) south of Vilnius and 90 nautical miles (170 km; 100 mi) west of Minsk, but still in Belarusian airspace. According to the airline, its pilots were notified by Belarusian authorities of "a potential security threat on board" and told to land the plane in Minsk. In Minsk, Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend were removed from the plane and arrested. Although the plane was closer to Vilnius, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, according to his press service, personally ordered the flight to be redirected to Minsk and sent Belarusian Air Force MiG-29 fighter aircraft to escort it. Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called for an ICAO investigation of the incident.
  • On 9 April 2023, Ryanair Flight 5542 (Liverpool–Dublin) had an emergency landing that led to front gear damage. The southern runway in Dublin Airport was temporarily closed. There were no injuries but one person was treated for shock.

See also

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