Ryanair was founded in 1985 by the Ryan family to provide scheduled passenger airline services between Ireland and the UK, as an alternative to the then state monopoly carrier, Aer Lingus. It started out a full service conventional airline, with two classes of seating and leasing three different types of aircraft. However despite growth in the passenger volumes financial problems were of a growing concern. In its fight to survive the airline went through a dramatic restyle to become Europe's first low fares, no frills carrier, built on the model of Southwest Airlines.

When I began my research into Ryanair I thought it best to start at the core of the company. I searched for a mission statement to provide me with an insight into the thinking behind the name Ryanair. However it was hard to find an actual mission statement but what was crystal clear was the company's main objective. Ryanair's objective is to maintain its position as Europe's leading low fares airline, operating frequent point-to-point flights on short-haul flights, mainly out of regional and secondary airports.

The heart of Ryanair's strategy is based on providing a no frills service with low fares designed to stimulate demand, particularly from budget conscious leisure and business travellers who might otherwise have used alternative forms of transportation or who might not travelled at all. Following on from this I looked at the external environment that affects Ryanair, to get a brief idea of the possible opportunities and threats.

In order for me to identify opportunities and threats within Ryanair's competitive environment I am looking at Porters Five Forces. His model focuses on five forces that shape competition within an industry: (1) the risk of entry by potential competitors, (2) the intensity of rivalry among established companies within an industry, (3) the bargaining power of buyers, (4) the bargaining power of suppliers, and (5) the closeness of substitutes to an industry's product.

Porter argues that the stronger each of these forces is, the more limited is the ability of established companies to raise prices and earn greater profits. The stronger a competitive force the more of a threat this item is in comparison to the weaker competitive forces which are seen as opportunities.

The airline industry is ever growing with 62 low cost airlines across Europe in operation. When Ryanair began their low cost airline strategy they were the only company in Europe to have this vision. The dramatic growth in this area shows that the risk of entry of potential competitors is high however there are barriers to entry such as set-up costs, brand loyalty, economies of scale and government regulations. The rivalry between existing companies is fierce with the top three companies in Europe being Ryanair, Easy Jet and Air Berlin. Each company tries to set themselves apart from the others Easy Jet with their image and service and Ryanair with the lowest price flights starting from 5p excluding taxes.

Ryanair has a competitive advantage over its rivals, as it is the most profitable airline in Europe with the lowest staff costs in all of Europe. Easy Jet (Ryanair's main competitor) has strong brand recognition with clear ideas and goals. Their mission statement: " To provide our customers with safe, good value, point-to-point air services. To effect and to offer a consistent and reliable product and fares appealing to leisure and business markets on a range of European routes. To achieve this we will develop our people and establish lasting relationships with our suppliers."

As you can see from the descriptions of the two companies Ryanair is mainly focused on offering the cheapest price for the journey offering no frills and cutting costs wherever possible. For example when the catering company which supplies Ryanair withdrew the provision of free ice, the airline sent a memo to cabin staff advising them that ice would no longer be available for passengers drinks, a measure which saved the airline IR£40,000 a year. With 26,392,361 passengers in 2004 Ryanair are market leaders.

However when you look at the Easy Jet style of airline they not only focus on cost reduction but on employee needs and training along with customer satisfaction and retention of both customers and suppliers. They understand that money is not everything people demand friendly service and flexibility. With 24,300,000 passengers in 2004 Easy Jet are becoming very attractive as a low fares airline.

The airline industry is a buyers market were all somebody has to do is log onto another website to access alternative flights with another company. The power of suppliers in the airline industry is very strong also, as you can see in the newspapers there is a strike at Boeing and this has halted all airplane deliveries. This has a direct knock on effect to Ryanair that they can do nothing about. Each low cost airline is offering the same basic service however Ryanair have an advantage as they are currently offering 297 routes out of 107 airports but competition is strong. Areas such as customer service and branding are key to success.

The next step in researching Ryanair was to look at the internal workings of Ryanair. Some of the good internal areas I found were the management of Ryanair they know were they want to go and how they want to get there. They are always expanding the airline into new countries and offering customers cheaper travel to these destinations. The management have become very good at launching their new routes through advertising and special offers. Also the company is thriving from a financial point of view with profit for the financial year rising from 206,661,000 in 2004 to 266,741,000 in 2005. Earnings per Share rose from 27.28c in 2004 to 35.10 c in 2005.

I also noticed negative internal aspects in the business, including the treatment of customers for example upon cancellation of a flight, vitriolic attacks in advertisements about opponents. The location of destination airports for example Copenhagen when you actually land in Malmo, Sweden. Another area is trade union membership and the treatment of disabled passengers.

Ryanair refuses to give food vouchers or accommodation vouchers if their flights are delayed or even cancelled. A practice that can stop people using their airline. However Ryanair's published report states that 92.20% of all flights departed on time in 2005. Customers who book with Ryanair need to consider that when they land they may be an hours drive away from the main town as Ryanair uses subsidiary or regional airports it can often be costly to get from the airport to your final destination.

The treatment of disabled passengers causes a lot of controversy and while researching I came across a website www.airlinequality.com/Forum/ryan.htm. On this forum people can log their complaints about Ryanair and one man left a very interesting message about the treatment of disabled passenger costs. "Since wheelchair passengers are deemed awkward and unwelcome, everyone is charged a tax to pay for them. Two people on a fairly typical flight will pay around £6, meaning that a full 150-seat plane will generate over £400 in "wchr levy" as it is vaguely described on their bill breakdown."

Using all this information I would like to put it into a frame by which we can judge the future of Ryanair. To do this I will look at the company using a SWOT analysis.

Strengths: Ryanair is under excellent management who are determined for the airline to succeed. They are currently the market leaders with the highest profits in Europe. Ryanair is known globally and are very good at changing with the current trends.
Weaknesses: Ryanair's main weakness is that the company can become too caught up in cost cutting and in this way they are alienating their customers. There are many reports of the lack of friendliness and the push of products on a Ryanair flight. In the companies drive to be all they can be they may end up with nobody on their airplanes no matter how cheap the seat.
Opportunities: As people become more and more prone to travelling by plane as an everyday occurrence Ryanair can tackle public transport like Bus Eireann or the Iarnrod Eireann. Ryanair is opening a Dublin to Cork route which starts at 99c excluding taxes. Why sit on the bus for five or six hours or why pay €56.50 to get the train when you can fly for cheaper and have a shorter journey time.
Threats: The main threats that face Ryanair are competition offering possibly better quality at a fraction more in price. Also the ever-increasing oil prices which will drive up their cost base and although they say they won't pass this on to the consumer they may have to. The strikes at Boeing, which are delaying delivery of necessary aircrafts, could cause a delay in opening new routes.

In conclusion Ryanair are market leaders as they have the initiative and charisma to set themselves apart from the other low cost airlines. Although they may draw attention to themselves under a negative light at times no press is bad press. They have the ability to adapt to new customer demands and the increases in oil prices along with any government changes. Ryanair started a new breed of airlines in Europe and have managed to stay on top of their market. As competition gets tough Ryanair will have to keep setting themselves apart from the others like Easy Jet. Through their clever advertising and low prices they will never fail to attract customers.http://www.oppapers.com/essays/Ryanair/66662

Ryanair 7.7 of 10 on the basis of 3290 Review.