Ryanair has been named Europe’s best-performing airline of the decade.
No, it’s not April 1.
The accolade was bestowed upon the Irish no-frills carrier by the Decade of Airline Excellence Awards, with one judge declaring that it had ‘revolutionised air travel within Europe’.
Ryanair has been named Europe’s best-performing airline of the decade. Pictured is the no-frills airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary
Ryanair, the judges said, was pioneering in terms of taking advantage of Europe’s relatively liberal aviation market – far beyond its Dublin home.
Challenges emerged, they said, and were overcome during the period, such as a move to recognise unions, which heralded high-profile negotiations but failed to significantly dent its cost advantage.
The judges also pointed out that the latter part of the decade also saw Ryanair adopt an ‘IAG-like’ business structure, with outspoken Michael O’Leary at the helm and overseeing the chief executives of the group’s mainline operation, Lauda, Polish leisure carrier Buzz, and Malta Air.
The strength it took from its strategy and performance in aviation’s boom decade, said the judges, meant it entered the current crisis with a hefty pile of cash to see it through.
‘The past decade saw Ryanair firmly establish itself as perhaps the world’s best contemporary example of the low-cost business model being implemented to its full potential,’ said Lewis Harper, Managing Editor of Airline Business magazine.
‘In doing so, its influence was felt across the short-haul travel market, as it dragged legacy operators into defensive manoeuvres and challenged budget rivals with its ultra-low-cost base. Put simply, Ryanair became a carrier that even the most ardent full-service devotees would struggle not to have a grudging respect for.’
A judge in the Decade of Airline Excellence Awards said ‘it’s formidable what Michael and the team have done’
One judge for the awards, which were organised by FlightGlobal in association with Airline Business and Korn Ferry, said: ‘They revolutionised air travel within Europe. They revolutionised the market, they revolutionised and impacted on what the legacy carriers were doing, they revolutionised passenger expectations… and passengers flock back to them time and time again.’
Another judge said: ‘It’s formidable what Michael and the team have done there.’
And further praise came in the form of this panel-member summation: ‘It’s a beast of a machine and it works incredibly well.’
Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website www.headforpoints.com, concurred.
He said: ‘I would agree. No-one has done more to transform European aviation than Ryanair. When I was a student, even a flight from London to Paris was unaffordable. My Dad never flew in his life. In February 2020 I flew to Porto on Ryanair for £5 one-way, all in. Low-cost aviation has done as much as the EU to encourage people to live, work and explore beyond their home country.
No-one has done more to transform European aviation than Ryanair
Rob Burgess, editor of frequent flyer website www.headforpoints.com
‘Ryanair has also upped its game this decade, moving from secondary to primary airports and continuing to invest in new, more environmentally friendly, aircraft.’
Ryanair said: ‘We’re delighted to win Flight Global’s Decade of Airline Excellence Award for Europe.
‘Over the past 10 years, Ryanair has grown to be Europe’s largest airline, going from carrying 72million passengers in 2010 to over double last year carrying 150million passengers throughout 240 destinations in 40 countries around Europe.
‘We look forward to the next decade where we will continue to offer customers the lowest fares, most choice and the best service.’
Travel expert and frequent flier Gilbert Ott, who runs the flight tips site God Save The Points, said that low expectations help Ryanair.
He commented: ‘For short-haul flights, on-time is everything most travellers hope for or expect, nothing more. That’s good news for Ryanair, because there is nothing more once on board. But hey, with low expectations and high on-time performance you can win a lot of fans.’
The award will no doubt make a refreshing change for Ryanair, as it often comes in for criticism.
When MailOnline’s etiquette expert William Hanson reviewed a Ryanair flight, he concluded: ‘There is no doubt with Ryanair that any of the joy of travelling by air has been completely, and purposefully, removed.’
Last year it was voted ‘the filthiest flight operator in the UK‘, finished bottom of the respected Which? annual airline survey and this year was declared one of the worst firms for coronavirus cancellation refunds in a moneysavingexpert.com ranking.
Visit flightglobal.com for more on the awards.