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AVIATION - RYAN AIR LOW BUDGET FLIGHTS

Ryan Air cheap flight tickets script a success story

EasyJet, SkyEurope, Wizz Air, Central Wings, British Airways and Lufthansa are far behind.


BY OUR AVIATION CORRESPONDENT

26 August, 2005: Ryan Air, SkyEurope, Wizz Air, Central Wings and EasyJet PlC are currently fighting for dominating the low-budget skies in Europe, as even the countries once behind the Iron Curtain embrace the market economy with open arms.

Ryan Air, the Dublin, Ireland-based low-cost airline has been the first off block, and is still the biggest player. With its cheap flight tickets, Ryan Air hopes to carry around 35 million air passengers this year. Ryan Air flies about 250 low-priced routes, spread across 21 countries in Europe. it has bases in 21 countries, and boasts of a fleet of over 100 Boeing 737-800 planes. Ryan Air has recently placed firm orders for another 125 new planes, which are expected to join its fleet in seven years. Ryan Air hopes the arrival of additional planes will help it take the low-budget flight ticket game to greater heights. The fleet expansion will help Ryan to fly a whopping 70 million passengers by 2012. The discount airline currently has staff strength of 2,700 people, hailing from over 25 different countries.

RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM LONDON STANSTED

La Rochelle
Oslo (Torp)
Nîmes
Hamburg
Jerez
Shannon
Pescara
Newquay
Dinard
Bologna
Gothenburg
Porto
Almeria
Poitiers
Rome (Ciampino)
Altenburg (Leipzig)
Murcia (Alicante)
Montpellier
Riga
Valladolid
Venice (Treviso)
Verona (Brescia)
Bratislava (Vienna)
Poznan
Rodez
Milan(Orio al Serio)
Genoa
Krakow
Szczecin
Toulon
Grenoble
Blackpool
Rzeszów
Lodz
Zaragoza(Pyrenees)
Bydgoszcz
Esbjerg
Gdañsk
Kerry
Eindhoven
Tours Loire Valley
Düsseldorf (Weeze)
Aarhus
Karlsruhe-Baden
Malmo (Sturup)
Frankfurt (Hahn)
Glasgow (Prestwick)
Haugesund
Derry
St. Etienne
Dublin
Turin
Knock
Palermo
Valencia
Berlin (Schonefeld)
Santiago De Comp
Trieste
Ancona
Stockholm (NYO) 
Brindisi
Bari
Friedrichshafen
Salzburg
Graz
Granada
Klagenfurt
Pisa (Florence)
Linz
Cork
Reus (Barcelona)
PortAventura (Reus)
Limoges
Biarritz
Tampere
Carcassonne
Kaunas
Santander (Bilbao)
Bergerac
Pau (Pyrenees)
Seville
Wroclaw
Alghero (Sardinia)
Brno
Perpignan
Barcelona (Girona)
===========

RYANAIR FLIGHT FROM GLASGOW 

Brussels (Charleroi)
Krakow 
Gothenburg
Rome (Ciampino)
Oslo (Torp)
Pisa (Florence)
Frankfurt (Hahn)
Düsseldorf (Weeze)
Bournemouth
Hamburg (Lübeck)
Paris (Beauvais)
London (Stansted)
Dublin
Shannon
Milan(Orio al Serio)
Stockholm (NYO)
Barcelona (Girona)
Murcia (Alicante)

===========
RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM LIVERPOOL

Dublin
Cork
Carcassonne 
Pisa (Florence) 
Milan(Orio al Serio) 
Venice (Treviso) 
Shannon 
Bergerac 
Oslo (Torp) 
Riga 
Rome (Ciampino) 
Limoges 
Nîmes 
Barcelona (Girona) 
PortAventura (Reus) 
Reus (Barcelona) 
Granada 
Murcia (Alicante) 

=============
RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM NEWCASTLE

Milan(Orio al Serio) 
Dublin 
Oslo (Torp) 

=============
RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM EAST MIDLANDS

Shannon 
Dublin 
Rome (Ciampino) 
Barcelona (Girona) 
Murcia (Alicante) 

=============


RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM BOURNEMOUTH

Dublin 
Glasgow (Prestwick) 
Barcelona (Girona) 

===============

RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM LONDON LUTON 

Dinard 
Esbjerg 
Nîmes 
Venice (Treviso) 
Shannon 
Stockholm (VST) 
Milan(Orio al Serio) 
Dublin 
Rome (Ciampino) 
PortAventura (Reus) 
Reus (Barcelona) 
Barcelona (Girona) 
Murcia (Alicante) 

============

RYAN AIR FLIGHTS FROM BLACKPOOL

London (Stansted) 
Dublin 
Barcelona (Girona)

 

Ryan Air was set up in 1985 by the Ryan family, with just £1 share capital and 25 employees. The first Ryan Air flight took wings in July, 198. 25. Since Ryan Air flew cramped 15-seater Bandeirante planes, it was mandatory that the cabin crew were less than aircraft five feet 2 inches in height! The daily flights started between Waterford in south-east Ireland to London's Gatwick. 

In the first full year of operation, Ryan Air secured permission to fly the Dublin-London route, which was, till then dominated by British Airways and Aer Lingus. Ryan Air started the fare war with its cheap flight tickets priced half as that of British Airways and Aer Lingus, and cornered a major chunk of the discount fliers between the two big cities. In response, both British Airways and Aer Lingus had to cut their flight ticket prices to retain the traffic. At the end of the first year of operation itself, Ryan had secured a traffic 82000 passengers.

Later, Ryan Air tied up with Tarom Air of Romania to secure its jets on wet lease. With the additional jets, Ryan extended its cheap flight ticket-powered business by 15 additional routes, including flights from Dublin to Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Cardiff. Ryan also opened new flight routes from Luton to Galway, Cork, Shannon, Waterford and Knock in Western Ireland.

 

Within three years, Ryan Air had leased another three jets from Tarom Air of Romania, taking the total number of leased jets to six. this enabled the company to launch flights across Europe with cheap, low-budget discount flight tickets. The strategy had caught on by now, and was paying rich dividends. Apart from more flights in Ireland itself, Ryan Air also launched cheap flights from Dublin to Brussels and Munich. two of its products - the Frequent Flier club and the business class product did not take off well, and were abandoned.

The cut-throat competition in the European market hit Ryan Air by 1990, and the company piled up losses of £20 million. Ryan Air was restructured, with the Ryan family investing about £20 million to turn the company around. The airline was restructured o the model of the South West Airline, with the motto of offering low-budget flight tickets. A new management came in too. Ryan claims that it is the cheapest airline in the European market. "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," claims the low-budget airline.

Fortunes changed in 1991 with the Gulf War breaking out. The airline shifted base to another airport and returned some of its turbo prop aircraft. For the first time since inception, Ryan Air made an audited profit of £293,000 for the year. Later, the total number of Ryan Air flight routes were pruned to just six - Dublin-Stansted, Dublin-Luton, Dublin-Liverpool and Cork, Shannon and Knock to Stansted. Despite the reduction in flights, traffic increased since the cheap flight tickets had driven up passenger traffic.

In 1993, Ryan Air carried over 1 million passengers for the first time. A new flight to Birmingham was opened and more aircraft bought from British Aircraft and Britannia. Two more discount flights were opened from Dublin to Manchester and Glasgow Prestwick in 1994. In 1995, Aer Lingus withdrew from the Dublin-London Gatwick flight route, and it came to be dominated by Ryan Air. By now, Ryan had become the largest European low-budget airline in the Dublin-London route offering cheapest air tickets. In September 1995, it became the first Irish airline to fly a British domestic flight route - London Stansted to Glasgow Prestwick. The same year (the 10th year of Ryan Air), four Boeings wee bought from Transavia. 

Leeds Bradford, Cardiff and Bournemouth flights were started in 1996, and more Boeings bought from Lufthansa. In 1996, the European Open Skies policy was cleared, allowing free competition for scheduled airlines across Europe. In 1997, flights from London Stansted to Stockholm Skavsta and Oslo Torp were started besides, low-budget flights from Dublin to Paris Beauvais and Brussels Charleroi. With the addition of two more Boeings, the fleet strength of Ryan Air now reached 25. The company was listed in the same year in Dublin and Nasdaq. A new Ryan Air base was launched at Glasgow Prestwick with cheap discount flights every day to London, Paris, Dublin and Frankfurt. 

In 1998, Ryan Air continued adding more routes to Malmo (Sweden), St Etienne and Carcassonne (France) and Venice, Pisa and Rimini (Italy). The airline also placed orders for another 45 brand new planes to power its cheap fare flights. Frankfurt, Ancona, Genoa, Turin, Derry, Biarritz, Ostend and Aarhus flights were started in 1999, all of them flying the flag of cheap flight tickets. 

In 2000, the Ryan Air website was launched, to facilitate online booking and seat reservation. The website has received heavy traffic from the beginning, with surfers flocking to the low-budget flight phenomenon. In 2001, the airline opened its first continental base at Brussels Charleroi Airport with another five Boeing 737-800s. 
From Brussels, Ryan Air started flights to Dublin, London, Venice, Paris, Glasgow, Shannon and Carcassone. The airline company disproved critics who prophesied that Ryan's budget flights will not work in Brussels. 

The 9/11 attacks had their effect on Ryan Air too, just like the case with airlines across the world, whether they were budget airlines or not. Air travel plunged, and there were fears of oil price hike too. In 2002, Ryan Air flights to Ireland, UK, Norway, Franck and Italy took off from its new continental base at Frankfurt Hahn. Lufthansa, which handled all the outbound flights from Germany so far, went to court, but passengers still flocked to Ryan Air's cheap flights. the airline went on to announce another order for more Boeings.

In 2003, the budget airline made its first big acquisition, by snapping up the Stansted based Buzz Air, which was making losses. Buzz Air was turned around and Ryan relaunched the flights by Buzz in 15 routes at half the earlier ticket bookings prices. This made it the biggest airline operating out of London Stansted airport. Ryan then went on to open new continental bases in Milan Bergamo and Stockholm Skavsta. 73 new flight routes were launched, and with another 14 Boeings delivered, Ryan Air overtook British Airways as the biggest airline in UK, clocking more passenger traffic than BA.

Ryan Air added 24 Boeings in 2004, taking its total budget flights fleet strength to 60. Some of the older aircraft were retired by now. Two more bases were opened at Rome Ciampino and Barcelona Girona. In 2005, it has opened new flights to Liverpool John Lennon Airport and at Shannon in the West of Ireland.

In its aerial history spanning over a decade, Ryan Air has bagged numerous awards and honours for airline punctuality and least ticket booking cancellations. It has been named as the world's popular airline by Google. Ryan Air gets most of its budget ticket bookings through the Internet, with its website bringing 98% of its traffic. As the original successful discount airline of Europe, Ryan Air still has a long way to go.

BY OUR AVIATION CORRESPONDENT

 

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