Ryanair Ltd. is an Irish low-cost airline. Its primary operational bases are at Dublin Airport and London Stansted. The airline has been characterised by rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the aviation industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low-cost business model.
Ryanair was founded in 1985 by Christopher Ryan, Liam Lonergan and Irish businessman Tony Ryan (after whom the company is named). 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. 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. 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. In 2003, Ryanair acquired its ailing competitor Buzz from KLM. The rapid addition of new routes and new bases has enabled this growth in passenger numbers and made Ryanair among the largest carriers on European routes.