40 years of Ryanair – a brief history | Airlines

Ryanair Emb 110.jpg

2024 marks 40 years since the incorporation of Ryanair. Now Europe’s largest airline both in terms of aircraft fleet size and passengers carried annually, Ryanair started from surprisingly humble beginnings.

AeroTime investigates the history of the carrier, from flying a single turboprop aircraft on just one regional route between Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK) to the pan-European megacarrier it is today.

Ryanair – the beginning

The story of Ryanair begins in the middle of 1984. The company was founded by three Irish businessmen – Tony Ryan (the founder of Irish aircraft leasing company Guinness Peat Aviation), Christopher Ryan, and Liam Lonergan, the owner of Irish travel firm Club Air. Tony Ryan’s two sons also took leading roles in the startup, with Cathal Ryan bringing his flying experience as a pilot while Declan Ryan offered financial expertise gained while working as an accountant.

The early plan for the nascent airline was to tackle the issue of high airfares being charged to passengers flying across the Irish Sea between Ireland and the UK. The incumbent airlines (Aer Lingus and British Airways) enjoyed a virtual duopoly on routes between the Irish Republic and airports in Great Britain, with almost total freedom to fix their own airfares. Ryanair wanted to address this issue by offering cheaper fares than those being charged by legacy carriers while still offering a safe and reliable air service.

Having been legally incorporated on November 28, 1984, Ryanair’s first flight took to the skies eight months later on July 8, 1985, using a single aircraft and 25 employees. The airline’s first aircraft was an Embraer EMB-110P1 Bandeirante, which was around five years old when it began operating for the airline. Registered as EI-BPI, the plane carried just 15 passengers and was dedicated to the airline’s only route, flying between Waterford (WAT), a regional airport in the south-east of Ireland, and London-Gatwick Airport (LGW)…

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