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RyanAir: The ' Southwest' of European Airlines

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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Case Details:


Case Code : BSTR059 Electronic Format: Rs. 300;
Courier (within India):Rs. 25 Extra
Business Strategy | Case Study in Management, Operations, Strategies, Business Strategy, Case Studies


Cost Leadership
Case Length : 14 Pages
Period : 1985 - 2003
Organization : Ryanair
Pub Date : 2003
Teaching Note : Available
Countries : Europe
Industry : Airlines


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.


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


  Page No.
Ryanair Challenges Easyjet 1
Background Note 2
The Recipe for Low Fares 4
Ryanair's Publicity 5
Ryanair's Competitive Position 5
Exhibits 10


Ryanair, low-cost, airlines, Europe, 1985, Irish airline, London, Ireland, 1990, biggest, low-cost airline, 2002, easyJet, top position, operations, discounter, Dallas, Southwest airlines, operational policies, strategy of cost, cheeky publicity, brand, popular, 2003, consolidation, major players, positioned

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