Why is Ryanair So Cheap?

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31 May 2024

Ryanair is a popular choice for budget travellers because they offer very cheap fares. But why are Ryanair so cheap?

It's not just luck - they have smart ways to save money. From cost-cutting strategies to a no-frills approach, Ryanair has changed how affordable travel works.

This insight reveals the secrets behind Ryanair's low-cost model, explaining why their prices are unbelievably cheap.

Let's dive in and explore the fascinating world of Ryanair and the magic behind their budget airline phenomenon!

Key Takeaways

  • Ryanair's low fares are a result of clever cost-cutting tactics, such as eliminating in-flight amenities, using cheaper secondary airports, and charging for extras like drinks and snacks.
  • Their high-volume, low-margin approach, filling flights with many passengers, enables them to spread costs and offer cheaper fares compared to traditional carriers.
  • Under CEO Michael O'Leary's leadership, Ryanair aggressively cuts costs, maintains a no-frills approach, and negotiates hard with suppliers for the best deals on planes, fuel, and airport services.
  • Ryanair's reliance on ancillary revenue, earned through optional extras like baggage fees, allows them to keep basic ticket prices low and remain profitable while offering budget travelers affordable options.

Why is Ryanair So Cheap?

Ryanair is cheap due to its clever cost-cutting tactics. They don't offer in-flight amenities, meals or entertainment. The airline uses secondary airports, often cheaper than major ones. Additionally, Ryanair's no-frills model charges for extras such as drinks, snacks, and checked baggage,

Budget airlines like Ryanair have a clever way of providing much cheaper tickets compared to traditional carriers.

They do this by keeping things simple and cutting costs wherever possible.

One key tactic they use is flying to smaller airports instead of major ones.

These smaller airports charge lower fees, so Ryanair can save money on landing and infrastructure costs. Another smart move is using only one type of aircraft, the Boeing 737.

This helps them save on maintenance, training, and spare parts, making their operations more efficient. Ryanair sells tickets directly through its website, avoiding commission fees from travel agents. This lets them offer the best deals and keep distribution costs low. 

In short, Ryanair's success lies in its simple, efficient, and cost-cutting approach, allowing them to offer incredibly cheap fares to budget travelers.

Factors contributing to Ryanair's low fares

Ryanair can offer low fares due to several reasons:

Firstly, they follow a high-volume, low-margin approach, filling their flights with many passengers to spread costs and reduce expenses per person.

This lets them offer cheaper fares than competitors.

Secondly, Ryanair makes money through ancillary services and fees. While ticket prices are low, they earn extra from optional extras like baggage fees, priority boarding, and in-flight meals, giving passengers choices and adding to their revenue.

Ryanair is also known for aggressive cost-cutting.

They negotiate hard with suppliers to get the best deals on planes, fuel, and airport services. This helps them lower operating costs and pass on savings to customers.

By keeping their flights well-filled, known as a high load factor, Ryanair maximises revenue and ensures profitable flights. This allows them to maintain low fares and still make a profit.

Ryanair's cost-cutting strategies

Ryanair's ability to offer such low fares is largely attributed to the relentless pursuit of cost-cutting measures championed by its founder and CEO, Michael O'Leary. Known for his frugal approach to business, O'Leary has played a pivotal role in shaping the airline's unique business model.

As the CEO of Ryanair, Michael O'Leary has earned a reputation for his tough negotiating skills and willingness to drive hard bargains with suppliers.

He leaves no stone unturned in securing the best deals from aircraft manufacturers, fuel providers, and airports, all of which contribute to significant cost savings for the airline.

O'Leary's vision of a no-frills approach has also had a profound impact on Ryanair's operations. Under his leadership, the airline has focused on offering a bare-bones travel experience, eliminating unnecessary amenities and services to keep operating costs to a minimum.

This stripped-down model allows Ryanair to pass on the savings to their customers in the form of lower fares.

Furthermore, Michael O'Leary has been a driving force behind the airline's innovative strategies to reduce fuel consumption.

By investing in fuel-efficient aircraft and leveraging advanced technology, Ryanair has been able to optimise fuel burn and carefully plan flight routes, ultimately contributing to both cost savings and a reduced environmental footprint.

The impact of ancillary revenue on ticket prices

One of the main reasons Ryanair can offer such cheap fares is its reliance on ancillary revenue. Although their ticket prices may seem incredibly low, the airline makes a significant portion of its money from optional extras and fees.

Ryanair offers various add-ons like checked baggage, priority boarding, meals, and seat selection, which customers can choose to buy. These extras not only bring in more money but also allow travellers to personalise their journey.

The revenue from these added services helps balance out the low fares.

By charging for optional extras, Ryanair can increase its overall earnings and remain profitable. This way, they can keep their basic ticket prices low while giving passengers the option to enhance their travel experience with extra services.

Ryanair is proactive in expanding its ancillary revenue sources.

They regularly introduce new products and services, partnering with car rental companies, hotels, and travel insurance providers to offer bundled packages to customers. This diversification helps them generate more income beyond ticket sales.

However, it's essential to remember that not everyone chooses to buy these extras.

Some passengers may travel light with just carry-on baggage or skip seat selection. They still benefit from Ryanair's low fares but might miss out on the extra services available.

Comparison with other budget airlines

While Ryanair is often hailed as the king of low-cost airlines, it is not the only player in the budget airline market. Several other airlines around the world have adopted similar low-cost models and compete with Ryanair in offering affordable travel options.

One of the main competitors to Ryanair is easyJet, another European budget airline. Like Ryanair, easyJet operates on a high-volume, low-margin model and offers no-frills travel. The two airlines share many similarities in terms of their cost-cutting strategies and ancillary revenue generation.

However, there are also some differences in their approach and target markets.

For example, easyJet tends to focus more on major airports and destinations compared to Ryanair's preference for secondary airports.

While each budget airline has its own unique characteristics and strategies, they all share a common goal: to provide affordable travel options to a wide range of customers. By streamlining operations, cutting costs, and focusing on passenger volume, these airlines have revolutionised the industry and made air travel more accessible to the masses.

Customer perception and satisfaction

Customer perception and satisfaction are crucial for the success of any airline, including Ryanair.

Despite facing criticism and controversy, Ryanair has maintained a strong customer base and remains a popular choice for budget travellers.

One of the main reasons customers choose Ryanair is their low fares. The airline's ability to offer much cheaper tickets than competitors is a significant attraction for budget-conscious travellers. Many customers are willing to compromise on certain amenities for the cost savings provided by Ryanair.

However, customer perception is not just about price. Ryanair's reputation for customer service and overall travel experience also matters. Although the airline has faced criticism in these areas, they have been making efforts to improve customer service and address customer concerns.

In recent times, Ryanair has introduced measures to enhance the customer experience, such as implementing new technologies to simplify the booking process and reduce delays. They have also made changes to their baggage policy and seating allocation system to make things more convenient for passengers.

While some customers may have had negative experiences in the past, Ryanair's continuous efforts to improve customer service and the allure of low fares have contributed to their enduring popularity amongst budget travellers.

So, why is Ryanair so cheap? Now you know.


Stuart is an expert in Property, Money, Banking & Finance, having worked in retail and investment banking for 10+ years before founding Sunny Avenue. Stuart has spent his career studying finance. He holds qualifications in financial studies, mortgage advice & practice, banking operations, dealing & financial markets, derivatives, securities & investments.

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