Ryanair has become the champion airline of Europe

July 31, 2009

Ryanair is the best airline in Europe.

Yup, that’s right. The most hated and ridiculed carrier on the entire continent is the best. The uber-loathed, toilet-charging, seat-removing Michael O’Leary leads an airline that carries more passengers, makes more money and is worth more than any other airline in Europe.

The business side of the argument is easy. After a week of trading updates from Europe’s main airlines, Ryanair emerged by far the strongest. The Irish no-frills carrier put out a profit warning, but compared to rivals it was like the Queen complaining of a shortage of horses.

It said it would make profit ‘only’ at the lower end of a 200-300 million euro range, but 200 million euros? BA lost 110 million euros in the first quarter alone, and the shares rose. Even Lufthansa, the strongest of the main European airlines, is forecast to make a measly 8 million euros this year.

EasyJet is doing well, and will make a profit this year – just. Ryanair is streets ahead.

Now for the service argument.

Ryanair -bashing is a popular past-time among the very tedious, but the company’s mission is very simple – fill planes at all cost regardless of ticket prices. People complain about the so-called ‘hidden costs’ of flying Ryanair, but many of them are avoidable and the total fare is not exactly hard to obtain — just tick the boxes and press submit.

As for the service, Ryanair spends as little as possible on luxuries and staff and is totally up front about it. What is wrong with this? Air travel is not a public service. If you want so-called luxury (although frankly I have never felt comfortable on an aeroplane) fly Virgin first class.

If you want a cheap flight fly Ryanair.

The one worry is that Ryanair could become too powerful. In the past year BA has ditched its model of keeping prices high and sacrificing passengers to the other way around — the Ryanair way.

This week it said it would ditch ‘free’ meals on some short haul flights. Again, like Ryanair. If the current downturn continues, it stands to reason that airlines will become more and more like your favourite Irish airline.

And wouldn’t the Ryanair bashers love that.


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Ryanair is an Irish company with its headquarters in Dublin.

You might aswell say that an American Airlines news story comes under UK news.

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

RE: Billy. Did you spill some milk this morning or something?

I’ve yet to fly with Ryanair but perhaps I’ll give them a go in a chem suit.

Posted by Richard | Report as abusive

well done, Michael O’Leary, making profit is what business is all about. It’s what keeps business’s going and
provides jobs.
Pity a lot of other so called business people don’t seem to realise that.

posted by: tbill

Posted by Bill Mounsey | Report as abusive