In 1985, the Ryan established Ryanair with a share capital of £1 and 25 employees, using a 15-seater Bandeirante aircraft.
One year later, Ryanair added two new BAE748 aircraft to its fleet, and carried 82,000 passengers during 1986.
In 1987, three BAC1-11 aircraft on wet lease from TAROM join the fleet, enabling Ryanair to have 15 scheduled routes in its network and carry no less than 322,000 passengers, almost 4 times as many as in 1986.
By 1990, Ryanair dropped its Business Class product and closed the Frequent Flyer Club, but re-launched as Europe’s first low fares airline, offering lowest fares in every market and moving to a single aircraft fleet type and scrapping free drinks and on board meals. At the same time, Ryanair managed to push its lowest fares even lower, from £99 to just £59.
In 1991 and 1992 Ryanair struggled, but 1993 saw more than one million passengers carried in a year for the first time.
In 1995, Ryanair celebrates its 10th birthday with a big party in Lansdowne Rugby Club, and its fleet reaches 11 aircraft, now all of them being Boeing 737s.
In the following 5 years, Ryanair continues its growth, reaching 1,262 employees and over 7 million passengers carried in a year at the end of 2000.
In August, 2001, Ryanair carries more than 1 million passengers in a month for the first time. At the same time, new Boeing 737s are added to the fleet, and Ryanair chooses Brussels Charleroi Airport as its first Continental European base.
In 2002, Ryanair carried over 13 million passengers, at the same time announcing the largest aircraft order by an Irish airline ever, with an order of over $6 billion placed for new Boeing aircraft.
Rapid expansion continues, and Ryanair breaks the 30 million passenger barrier in a year at the end of 2005, carrying more passengers in August than British Airways.
In 2006, Ryanair adds its 100th Boeing 737-800 to the fleet, and carries an impressive 42.5 million passengers in the year.
In early September, 2009, Ryanair’s fleet reached 200 aircraft for the first time.
By 2012, it is expected for Ryanair to operate a fleet of almost 300 aircraft.
In 2009, Ryanair traffic grew by 14% to 66.5 million passengers, and the average fare was reduced to just €35.51. New aircraft were bought, and the fleet grew up to 232 Boeing 737-800. The company opened 8 new bases in Bari, Brindisi, Oslo Rygge, Pescara, Porto Faro, Leeds Bradford, and Trapani. With 41 bases and over 940 routes, the company profits rose 200% to over €318 million.
In 2010, Ryanair traffic grew by 8% to 72.1 million passengers, and the average fare increase at just €39 with no fuel surcharges, despite the increase in fuel costs. New 40 aircraft incorporated to the fleet that rose to 272 Boeing 737-800. Eight new bases were opened in Gran Canaria, Kaunas, Lanzarote, Barcelona El Prat, Malta, Seville, Tenerife and Valencia, growing up to 44 bases and over 1,300 routes. Ryanair profits rose 26% to over €401 million, despite volcanic ash disruptions in the spring, higher oil prices and the global recession.
In 2011, Ryanair traffic grew by 5% to 75.8 million passengers with company’s average fare of €45 and no fuel surcharges. The airline incorporated 25 new aircraft so the fleet grew up to 294 Boeing 737-800s, and 6 new bases were opened in Billund, Budapest, Paphos, Palma De Mallorca, Baden, and Wroclaw, reaching over 1,500 routes and 50 bases.
In 2012, the company traffic grew up to 79.3 million passengers (5%) with an average fare of €48. The fleet increased up to 305 Boeing 737-800s with 15 new aircraft, and Ryanair placed firm orders with Boeing for 175 new aircraft. Ryanair opened 7 new bases at Eindhoven, Fez, Chania, Maastricht, Marrakech, Krakow and Zadar.
In 2013, Ryanair placed firm orders for 175 new Boeing B737-800 aircraft. With the opening of four new bases in Brussels, Lisbon, Rome, and Athens, the airline grew to 68 bases and over 1,600 routes.
In 2014, Ryanair placed orders for another 183 B737-800 aircraft, as well as 200 B737 Max 200 aircraft (100 firm and 100 options) and opened five new bases in Glasgow, Cologne, Bratislava, Gdansk, and Warsaw. With the launch of the “Always Getting Better” programme, Ryanair started fixing the things customers don’t like: it has relaxed its hard-line cabin baggage allowance, reduced penalties for failing to print out boarding passes, and introduced allocated seating.
In 2015, Year 2 of the “Always Getting Better” programme came with a dedicated US website, a new Ryanair Car Hire service, the unveiling of its new Customer Charter, new cabin interiors with slimline seats, new crew uniforms, and improved in-flight menus. Seven new bases were opened in Belfast, Gothenburg, Berlin, Milan Malpensa, Corfu, and Ibiza.
In December 2016, Ryanair launched Ryanair Holidays, a package holiday service offering flights, accommodation and transfer packages on the Ryanair website and at the lowest prices. The new service was created in partnership with Logitravel, Spain-based tour operator, and World2Meet, accommodation provider, and was launched in the UK, Ireland, and Germany. Other markets will follow in 2017.
In 2016, Ryanair, Europe’s No. 1 airline for Customer Service with unbeatable prices (an average fare of €46) and punctuality (over 90% of flights on time), carried 119m customers and more international passengers than any other airline. With a fleet of 360 Boeing B737-800 aircraft, Ryanair operated over 1,800 flights per day on over 1,800 routes from 200 airports in 33 countries. The airline has 86 bases across Europe and North Africa.
In April 2017, Ryanair released the quarterly Rate My Flight statistics (January, February and March 2017), which show that 92% of surveyed customers were satisfied with their overall flight experience, rating it Excellent, Very Good, or Good. Rate My Flight is available via the Ryanair app, the number one airline app in Europe.
In 2017, Year 4 of the “Always Getting Better” programme will include new initiatives such as the possibility to book connecting flights for the first time on Ryanair’s network and with partner airlines, new bases in Frankfurt Main and Naples), Plus products improved (Plus, Family Plus and Flexi Plus booking categories in addition to regular low fares), auto check-in for both flights (once return seats are booked), etc.
In August 2018, Ryanair completed the acquisition of 75% of Laudamotion and announced a doubling in size of the Austrian carrier’s Airbus fleet.
In 2019, Ryanair opened a base at London Southend Airport in April and two new bases in France, at Bordeaux and Marseille, for its Summer 2019 schedule.
In 2020, Ryanair was severely impacted by the coronavirus crisis, being forced to cancel flights and placing staff on furlough. Ryanair recorded its first loss in 30 years for the summer period. For the April-September period, passenger numbers decreased by 80%, compared to the same period of the previous year, and Ryanair Group posted a loss of €197 million.
In December 2020, Ryanair signed a purchase agreement for 75 Boeing 737 MAX 200s, increasing its order to 210 aircraft, which will be delivered from Spring 2021 to December 2024. Now that the Boeing MAX aircraft has been certified by the FAA and EASA to return to service, Ryanair expects the first deliveries of this new fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft in early 2021.
In March 2021, Ryanair added a new feature to the Ryanair app, the Covid-19 Travel Wallet. Now, Ryanair’s passengers can upload all Covid travel documents in one location (negative PCR tests, Covid vaccination certificates, and other Covid documents that may be required for EU travel).
With an industry-leading 35-year safety record, no Ryanair aircraft have been involved in incidents leading to deaths of serious injuries so far.