RyanAir: The ‘ Southwest’ of European Airlines

RyanAir: The ‘ Southwest’ of European Airlines

To analyze the business model and operating strategies adopted by a successful low-cost airline to emerge as the leader in a highly competitive market

Ryanair was one of the oldest and most successful low-cost airlines in Europe. Started in 1985 as an independent Irish airline, Ryanair expanded to become the biggest carrier on the London-Ireland route. By the late 1990s, it was the biggest low-cost airline in Europe. However, in 2002 rival easyJet overtook it to the top position. Ryanair’s operations were based on the operational model of the most successful discounter of all time – the Dallas-based Southwest airlines. Ryanair adopted most of the operational policies which made Southwest Airlines so successful. Along with an operational model to support its strategy of cost focus, the airline also made use of extensive – sometimes cheeky publicity, to make it’s brand more popular. By early 2003, the low-cost airlines segment in Europe showed signs of consolidation. Ryanair and easyJet had emerged as the major players in the market. How the two airlines were positioned vis-a-vis each other also forms a part of the case.

Issues:

» To analyze the business model and operating strategies adopted by a successful low-cost airline to emerge as the leader in a highly competitive market

» To examine the role of publicity as adopted by the airline and analyze its efficacy in creating higher brand awareness

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