From its humble beginnings in 1984, serving just a single route between Southern Ireland and London Gatwick Airport, Ireland-based Ryanair has since grown to become one of Europe’s leading airlines, profiting from deregulations of the European air industry in the 1990s.
The no-frills trendsetter took a financial hit in 2021
Ryanair was able to attract a growing number of customers with its low-cost business model, and passenger figures nearly doubled between fiscal years 2012 and 2020. Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, Ryanair uplifted some 148.6 million travelers. In the fiscal year 2020/21, Ryanair's passenger numbers slumped by more than 80 percent to 27.5 million, while revenue figures also took a big hit, reaching only 1.6 billion euros. In the following year, the low-cost airline recovered, reporting more than a twofold increase in passenger traffic. As of March 2022, Ryanair was an employer to 19,116 people, its highest workforce so far. Of their staff, 5,860 people were employed as pilots.
COVID-19 impact on European airlines
European commercial airlines reported around 34.5 billion U.S. dollars in net profit loss in 2020, marking the first year when figures declined after seven consecutive years of profitability. Projections for 2022 continue this negative trend, but not as severe as in 2020. Ryanair has criticized governmental bailouts as a competitive advantage for airlines to survive this crisis.
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Erick Burgueño Salas
Research expert covering climate change and the water industry