Ryanair (ISEQ: RYA, LSE: RYA, NASDAQ: RYAAY) is an Irish low cost airline with its head office at Dublin Airport, Ireland, and with primary operational bases at Dublin Airport and London Stansted Airport.
Ryanair operates almost 250 Boeing 737-800 aircraft on over 1,100 routes across Europe and Morocco from over 43 bases. The airline has been characterised by rapid expansion, a result of the deregulation of the air industry in Europe in 1997 and the success of its low cost business model. Ryanair is Europe's largest low-cost carrier, the 3rd largest airline in Europe in terms of passenger numbers and the largest in the world in terms of international passenger numbers.
Ryanair now has a number of low-cost competitors. In 2004, approximately 60 new low-cost airlines were formed. 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.
Airlines which attempt to compete directly with Ryanair are treated competitively, with Ryanair being accused by some of reducing fares to significantly undercut their competitors. In response to MyTravelLite, who started to compete with Ryanair on the Birmingham to Dublin route in 2003, Ryanair set up competing flights on some of MyTravelLite's routes until they pulled out. Go was another airline which attempted to offer services from Ryanair's hub at 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 the Republic of 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 announced in July 2006, that it was withdrawing its Gatwick-Cork, Gatwick-Shannon and Gatwick-Knock services; within two weeks, Ryanair also announced it would withdraw its own service on the Gatwick-Knock and Luton-Shannon routes.
Ryanair has asked the high court to investigate why it has been refused permission to fly from Knock to Dublin. This route was won by CityJet, which was unable to operate the service. The runner up, Aer Arann, was then allowed to start flights, a move Ryanair criticises on the basis that not initiating an additional tender process was unlawful.
DFDS Seaways cited competition from low-cost air services, especially Ryanair, which now flies to Glasgow Prestwick Airport and London Stansted Airport from Gothenburg City Airport, as the reason for scrapping the Newcastle-Gothenburg 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.